Posted: 10 February 2017

Mental Health Week - Melissa's story

Melissa shares her experience with debt and the effect it has on her mental health.

Life is difficult. Sometimes it just seems as if the world is against you. Things happen that affect your mental health, which put you in a position no-one at my age, or any age, should have to experience.

I’ve always been worried for my family’s mental health

My mum is disabled and I’ve been a young carer since I was 10. She is often in so much pain she can't get out of bed, so working isn't an option. In the past few months, things have gone from bad to worse. There have been problems with my mum’s benefits, including housing benefit and disability benefit, which have always been a lifeline for her. Her housing benefit was wrongly stopped which meant she fell behind with rent, and so my mum was evicted from our home. Now my mum is technically homeless and I can’t do anything because the council won’t listen.

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Ask your MP to back Breathing Space

Ask your MP to publicly back our plans to give families in debt a breathing space

Last Christmas was hard. There was a weight in the air because of the upcoming court dates and worrying that bailiffs could turn up at any time and put us on the streets. My mum had to live off less than £100 a week for food, heating, bills, petrol and anything else that might come up. I’ve had to go back to university so my own grades don’t suffer and so I can have a break for my own well-being.

As a young carer, I’ve always been worried for my family’s mental health but in a situation like this it really takes its toll. Sometimes my mum's depression and insomnia leave her unable to sleep for four days at a time, which in turn worries me and affects my own mental health. I’ve taken time off of university and school to help with things that really shouldn’t have happened in today's society. We shouldn’t have people deciding between whether they heat their houses or eat.

It’s draining when you’ve been witness to it for years. Now, I can’t help but worry when I'm supposed to be completing an assignment for university or on a night, out when I'm supposed to be having fun with my friends. Feeling like this isn’t something that can be switched on or off, but it's still not a subject that's discussed freely. The stigma surrounding mental health keeps everyone's lips sealed and it shouldn't be that way.

The stigma surrounding mental health keeps everyone's lips sealed and it shouldn't be that way

I’m lucky to have some fantastic people around me. I love my university course and I have high hopes for the future. I’ve written this blog, half to get everything out, half to try and show people that they’re not alone. Being a young carer is one thing, and trying to navigate the benefits system is another, but put them both together and you’re in a spiral that plays on your mind every day, affecting your family’s mental health and well-being as well as your own.

ask your MP to publicly back our plans to give families in debt a breathing space

Maybe things would have been different if we had been offered a breathing space, like the Debt Trap campaign is calling for, where we could have calmly explained the situation and been offered repayments at an affordable rate with no extra charges. Holding off the bailiffs would have been a weight lifted from our shoulders.  We can only hope that one day things will change and children younger than me don't have to worry about what the next knock on the door will bring.

By Melissa Moody
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Breathing space

Give young people in debt space to breathe
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Children's Mental Health Week: Help stop debt's damage

Posted: 6 February 2017