Debt and Social Isolation

Wednesday 5 June, 2019 Mental Health

In today’s society there is a great sense of urgency. In recent years should people desire a highly priced item such as a new car or the latest iPhone, they often put money away to save for these items. However, today with the accessibility of finance, credit cards, pay day loans etc people tend not to save and instead willingly purchase items that may not be within their budget.

Taken together, these trends are causing a new generation of debt problems that are more complex and harder to resolve. In recent years there has been a much greater focus on mental health and things which may impact it, and research has found that debt can greatly affect one’s mental health leading to all sorts of unhealthy habits.

The Psychology of Debt

Aperture conducted research into the ‘Psychology of Debt’ which investigated the correlation between indebtedness and emotional distress. This study found that debt can have an impact on people’s social experiences which in turn affects their mental health.

Debt can cause people to become withdrawn and people tend to isolate themselves from loved ones, placing great strain on these relationships. Becoming withdrawn and isolated from others can lead to feelings of loneliness and research has found that high levels of social isolation produce higher levels of loneliness.

All these feelings can have a negative impact on one’s mental health. In support of this, a study from recent years found that 62% of 374 individuals reported that their debt problems lead to stress, anxiety or depression.

The problem in Northern Ireland

The link between problem debt and social isolation in Northern Ireland is highlighted in a new report by the charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP). They found that a fifth of their clients suffering from problem debt have said they felt so low they didn’t leave the house for weeks at a time.

The report found that people hide away for different reasons:

  • they may not be able to afford to socialise,
  • very often there are struggling with poor mental health and
  • they feel embarrassed or lack confidence

The charity’s report, based on a survey of hundreds of its debt clients, reveals that more than eight in 10 (85%) said they had felt lonely or isolated, and one in five didn’t leave the house in an average week.

Effects of social isolation:

  • Isolation can increase the risks of mental health issues such as depression, dementia, social anxiety, and low self-esteem.
  • Higher levels of stress hormones and inflammation.
  • Heart disease, including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  • A heightened risk of developing a disability.
  • Increased vulnerability to chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes.
  • Social isolation may even increase one’s risk of premature death

The impact of financial struggles on a person’s health, both physical and mental, have the potential to be detrimental and it is important to remember that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are a client at Aperture and feel that you are struggling with your payments, you can contact us on 0333 939 7920 and a member of the team will be happy to listen and offer solutions to this.

If you feel that you are struggling with your mental health here a few numbers which you can contact; a problem shared is a problem halved.

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)



Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)


Money Advice Service

The money advice service provides free and impartial advice on money and financial decisions whilst giving advice and guidance to help improve your finances and manage your money better.

Phone: 0800 138 7777 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm Saturday)