‘I was 21, in debt, homeless and my girlfriend had committed suicide – but life can get better’

Mental health and debt are a marriage made in hell. Nearly five times as many people with mental health conditions have been in debt crisis than everyone else.

For years we’ve been campaigning to end the stigma and treat mental health like any other financial issue, and our Mental Health and Debt Help booklet has thankfully been downloaded many times.

Recently I announced that next year I’ll be going part-time at MSE, and with the new freedom and the large charity fund I have, I want to set up a mental health and debt policy institute (I talk about it here in this Telegraph profile.) 

On the back of that, I received this email from "Paul" – which I wanted to share as I think it’ll give hope to many who are in the mire.

Paul isn’t his real name of course, and a few of the details have been changed as he asked to remain anonymous.

“Dear Martin,

I feel compelled to email you in regards to your charity and your website for the following reasons after my wife kept on nagging me.

For many years I struggled with debt from living with an enduring mental illness and having little knowledge of how to manage my money after getting my own flat when I was 21 after my girlfriend committed suicide and I found myself homeless.

I accumulated a large amount of debt through not paying my bills and through credit/store cards. Lacking the confidence to do anything with my life, I wished it away playing the lottery.

Eight years ago I had a light bulb moment and realised I wanted to help others by becoming a mental health nurse, something at the time I was in no financial situation to do.

So I followed your advice, and after getting a bank account, I slowly rebuilt my life and my finances by repaying all of my debts/bills back through direct debits, paying the highest first.

By the time I went to college to re-sit my A-levels, then on to complete my access course and then complete a nursing degree, I had turned my finances around and saved some of my benefit money for a rainy day.

Also, I used your template for PPI insurance that I had wrongly paid for many years after being told falsely I would not be able to get a credit card without PPI insurance, even though I was registered as being disabled.

The money I had for a rainy day paid for my rent during the first year of being at university after my Disability Living Allowance was stopped, which had a knock on effect of me not getting the housing benefit. So if it were not for the advice that helped me save for my rainy day fund I would not have been able to complete my training and become a productive member of society once more.

I still watch your programmes and go on your website today. I was able to sit with my elderly mother when you were giving advice on lasting power of attorney and we were able to have a frank and honest discussion about their wishes regarding their care when the time comes. I now feel more prepared to cope when the inevitable occurs.

I’m now a husband and a father, something I never thought would happen to me, once again after planning a trip for Valentine’s using the advice on your website, I was able to get the best deal for a euro exchange rate. With my son, I can save money for a better future for him for the tax relief I get through child care vouchers.

Now I’m able to work with those that you have set up your fund for, like myself, and for those you wish to educate about finances.

Yours, sincerely,