Poor mental health is associated with the exacerbation of personal debt problems: A study of debt advice adherence

Nicole Andelic* (Corresponding Author), Aidan Feeney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Background: It is known that there is an association between debt and poor mental health. However, much of the literature is observational and focuses on how debt may lead to poor mental health. Here, we are interested in how poor mental health may be associated with debt advice adherence.
Aims: The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between mental health and debt advice adherence in individuals applying for a formal debt resolution mechanism (an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, IVA).
Method: Eighty-six participants completed a survey measuring mental health (MHI-5), memory for information discussed during the appointment, attitudes towards IVAs and trust in the advisor shortly after having a debt advice appointment. Adherence to the advice (whether participants completed the IVA application) was measured ten weeks later.
Results: The study found that the sample demonstrated poor levels of mental health overall but that non-adherent participants had significantly poorer mental health than those who adhered to the advice.
Conclusion: These results suggest that (a) mental health needs to be considered when advising people with problem debt and (b) future research might examine if mental health support should coincide with important decision points in the debtor’s journey out of debt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date3 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/S010882/1], the Business Alliance Office at Queen’s University Belfast and Aperture IVA, the company whose clients participated in the research.


  • mental health
  • debt
  • advice adherence
  • help-seeking


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