England

Debt 'causing' rise in depression

Debt advice leaflets - generic Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Charities and advice agencies are encouraging people in debt to seek help

Debt is being blamed for the growing number of people suffering from mental illness in the South West.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) said redundancy, mortgage or rent arrears, credit card debt and other money worries were making people desperate.

One in six calls being received by the mental health charity Mind in Plymouth is now related to financial stress.

It said people needed to tackle financial problems and get help, rather than let their anxiety escalate.

Mind director Richard Wakerell said people who had suffered mental illness are three times more likely to be in debt than someone who has not.

But with the current economic situation, he believed a growing number of people were becoming ill because of it.

He told BBC News: "Sleepless nights develop into a regular pattern and people have that burden and that anxiety gnawing away at them all the time.

'Deal with it'

"If they don't do anything about it it's just going to build and build and build."

Former soldier Keith Wilkinson said a combination of being medically discharged from the Army and the break-up of his marriage resulted in him "spiralling into depression and debt.

"I didn't know where to turn or want to admit I had this issue," he said.

"You're scared when the post comes or the phone goes... because you think it's someone wanting money."

Mr Wilkinson, who lives in Cornwall, said while he tried to give the outward appearance of coping, the turmoil inside him was building up.

He was helped from Sarah McNeice, whose job at the CAB is funded by the British Legion.

She said debt appeared to be a "trigger" which led to many of CAB's clients becoming agitated, worried and depressed.

Admitting to a debt problem and dealing with is the right thing to do, she added.

"It's a horrible thing to admit you've got yourself into that position, but as soon as you open up and ask for help, you feel loads better," Mr Wilkinson said.

"Its a real weight off your shoulders."

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