This week, with all the publicity surrounding #BellLetsTalk, I took time to reflect about mental illness and all of the people I know personally and professionally who are impacted … family, friends, co-workers, people I meet in daily life and clients. While it is true that mental illness does not discriminate based on wealth, I see the financial devastation it can create when the illness stops someone from dealing with financial issues. Bills go unpaid and accumulate until they are no longer manageable. Once swamped with debt, fear and anxiety result in inability to even open the mail.

Unfortunately, people living with mental illness are often unable to advocate for themselves and feel unworthy of getting help. Financial problems are a taboo subject, much like mental health, so put the two together and many people just freeze and do nothing. The debts, collection letters and collection calls add stress, anxiety grows, and it is a vicious cycle.

It can be extremely difficult to get good treatment from our overloaded health care system, but debt help is available right now. At Vine and Williams, we are Licensed Insolvency Trustees, licensed by the federal government and supervised by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. There are a lot of people out there claiming to offer debt help and some of them are scams. Look for a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. For more about the difference between us and others, see this helpful government website http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/bsf-osb.nsf/eng/br03459.html

If your debts are out of control and you feel it is a hopeless situation … talk to us. If you can’t open the mail, we will do it with you. I remember one lady who came in with a stack of mail to meet with me. She cried as I opened the envelopes and sorted the bills and collection letters in to piles. All we did that day was open the mail. I felt like I hadn’t really done much to help her, but I knew that was all she could manage that day. We agreed to meet the next week and she left in tears. To my surprise, she called the next day to thank me. She told me our meeting had given her the courage to talk to her daughter about her financial problems. Her daughter came with her to the next meeting and we were able to go over her options for dealing with her debt. She filed bankruptcy and is now living debt free.

If you or someone you know needs to know how to get out of debt, including government debt, call us at 310-6398 or email newu@vine.ca for a free meeting to talk. No judgment. No need to be embarrassed. Take one small step toward living debt free.

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