Mental health issues can affect many aspects of life, including our ability to stay on top of our banking and financial commitments. On World Mental Health Day, we’re reminding customers their bank is there to help and provide support to help them stay in control of their financial situation.
Most of us have someone close who has experienced mental illness. In fact, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show as many as two-in-five people have experienced a mental illness in the past. In other words, we’re all likely to know multiple people who’ve been through particularly hard times.
Poor mental health can impact many aspects of a person’s life, including their ability to manage their finances. And while some people take a break from working or reduce hours to focus on restoring their mental health, it can be a challenge to also meet financial obligations.
If you’re ever experiencing mental health issues, remember that you are not alone. Your bank can support you to manage your finances while you manage your health. Here’s where your bank may be able to help.
How your bank can support you
Customer owned banks have a focus on customer vulnerability and have financial support services where you can discuss your situation to see how your bank can help. This may include repayment breaks and reduced or overturned fees.
Your bank can also look at the products and services you access and make suggestions about how you can manage financially through your difficult time. For example, one avenue may be to make smaller repayments, while another may be to switch to a different type of loan.
Some banks can link you directly to support services. Services that can help include Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. If your concerns are related to debt, the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or the Rural Financial Counselling Service on 1300 771 741.
Your bank may also be able to point you in the direction of rebates, discounts and financial support from other agencies. For example, energy companies can reduce bills or overdue fees if they’re aware you’re struggling, while there are support schemes in place from state and territory governments.
If you’ve fallen behind on payments, letting your bank know the circumstances will prevent them from taking further action, such as involving third parties like lawyers.
Your bank can talk to you about ways to keep your credit rating in tact, which can affect your ability to get loans in the future.
Ultimately, banks understand that people go through difficult periods in their lives. As the statistics show, it’s very common. While it’s not always an easy conversation to have, telling your bank about your situation may make you aware of what they can do to help with financial stress.
If you need support, you can always contact Lifeline for free on 13 11 14.