Time to Talk: How to talk to a loved one about debt


Mind is a mental health charity and partner in Time to Change, a campaign designed to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people who experience mental health issues. One big part of that campaign is Time to Talk Day.

What is Time to Talk Day?

Time to Talk Day is a day that aims to get the nation talking about mental health, by encouraging open and honest conversations about mental health. The more conversations we have, the more we can help to end the isolation, shame, and stigma that people who have mental health issues may feel.

Time to Talk Day is usually held in the first week of February. In 2021, it is on Thursday 4th February. Due to national lockdowns, conversations about mental health might be a little bit different this year, but they’re just as important and you can still get involved. There are some helpful resources for supporting Time to Change and Time to Talk Day on their website.

Debt can impact mental health

It can be really hard to talk about debt but if you have financial issues that are causing you worry and stress, it can be really helpful to discuss them with someone else.

At Lowell, we understand that it’s common to feel uncomfortable talking about debt with your loved ones. If you can get past the embarrassment and awkwardness, talking about debt could really help to ease the stress and pressure you may be feeling.

If you’re struggling or feeling concerned about your debt, please speak to us and find out how we can help. We’re here for you but can only help if you tell us what’s going on. Our friendly team are trained to understand your situation and won’t ever judge you. We’ve listed some independent support services here who are available to offer support for both mental health and debt-related issues. 

How to speak to someone about debt

If you feel able, one of the best places to start a conversation or debt talk is with your loved ones. These are the people who support you and if you’re on a journey to become debt-free you may well need their support and help. Here are some guides on speaking to your partner, friends, and family about debt and mental health.

Speaking to your partner

Even if you live with someone and share everything, talking about money and mental health are some of the most difficult things to talk about. It can be hard to talk honestly about debt, especially with the people who closest to you.

If you have joint bills or joint accounts, it’s important to have the debt talk and to be open and honest about how your finances might impact on each other. Having debt can affect your partner’s credit score, so it’s important that they know if you’re having issues with debt, or if you suspect they have debt they might not be telling you about. The Money Advice Service has a helpful guide on how to speak to your partner about money, including scenarios and examples of topics to discuss.

It’s also important to know that if talking about debt brings up any issues or conflict with your partner, there’s help available. If you feel worried or unsafe and need to speak to a third party about any issues that have been raised, check out our list of independent organisations and charities, like Mind or Samaritans, who are here to help you.

Speaking to friends and family

Time to Talk Day is a great opportunity to speak to friends and family about mental health and open up about financial issues and how they’re impacting you. Time to Talk Day encourages people to talk honestly about mental health issues. So whether you’re feeling down or stressed because of money problems, or if you’ve noticed that a friend seems to be struggling, reaching out could really help.

If you have a friend that struggles with money, it can be awkward to start a conversation sometimes. In fact, we recently did a survey that revealed Brits would rather talk about controversial topics like sex, relationships or politics than debt. That’s why it might be useful to use Time to Talk Day as a starting point if you think there’s a problem. That way you can let your friend know that it’s okay to talk about mental health or money worries with you, without having to worry about how to bring it up.

At Lowell, we believe in challenging the stigma of debt, and in being open and honest so that our customers feel comfortable discussing their debt. Our survey revealed that talking to someone about debt can really help and that people who open up about their financial situation see a positive impact. A huge 41% of people we spoke to said that talking about their financial situation helped them feel that they had a clearer path to sorting money worries, and 32% felt comforted.

Conversation starters

Sometimes it can be hard to know just what to say. To make it a little bit easier, here are some ideas for debt and mental health conversation starters. Whether you reach out on Time to Talk Day or at any other time, these conversation starters might help you to reach out to someone to get them the help they need, or help make it easier for you to get in touch with someone to start a conversation and get support.

If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one

  • Today is Time to Talk Day – I think it can be really helpful to speak to someone about mental health. Have you got time for a quick chat today?
  • I’ve noticed that you seem to be upset and stressed at the moment. Is there anything I can do?
  • Are you okay?
  • I’ve noticed that you might be having a hard time with money. Is that something you’d like to talk about?
  • Do you want to take a walk and we can talk a little bit?
  • Is there anything you want to talk about?
  • Hey, we haven’t spoken in a while. Is everything okay?
  • It’s okay to keep stuff private, but did you want to tell me more about [subject]?
  • I’ve had problems with money in the past so if you’d like to talk I’m here to help

If you’re having a hard time with debt or mental health

  • It’s Time to Talk Day today and I just wanted to reach out. Are you free for a chat?
  • I’m having some issues with money and I think it would really help to talk about it with you.
  • I’d like to talk to you, but first I’d like to get your point of view about something
  • I’ve been struggling and I think it might help to talk with you about it.
  • I know you’ve dealt with money issues in the past – can we talk about it a little bit?
  • I’m having a hard time. I’m not really sure what to ask for, but I’d like to talk to someone.
  • I’m going through a tough time, and I feel like you’re someone I can trust. Are you free to talk?
  • I haven’t been doing so well recently and I think I need extra support with [debt/money/task]. Would you be able to help?

Our priority at Lowell will always be supporting our customers and working together to find the right solution for you. We’re here to help you, so we’ll always take the time to understand your situation and help however we can. If you need support please get in touch and we’ll work together to get you the guidance and advice you need. If you need more support, check out our resources about independent support and debt guidance.

Written by Emma Sams on 26 January 2021


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