"It just felt like everything came at once, and I had nowhere to turn. I felt as though I had failed as a dad."
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression years ago. I was on the road to recovery when I got a letter saying that because my son was turning 5 the income support I was getting would stop. I didn’t know what to do, I relied on these payments to live off. I didn’t have any other welfare benefits because I didn’t know how to make a claim.
I felt alone and constantly worried about how I would support my son. Things got worse and worse until I felt scared to leave the house. I didn’t want to go anywhere or get in any situations that would make me panic, I felt really trapped and embarrassed. I had developed agoraphobia.
I knew I needed to get financial support, as it was seriously affecting my mental health. It just felt like everything came at once, and I had nowhere to turn. I felt as though I had failed as a dad.
After researching the benefits system, I realised I could apply for Universal Credit in my local area. But I didn’t feel like I could sign-on in person. I was told over the phone that I would need a doctor’s note to prove my illness, but my agoraphobia got in the way of getting it. When I asked for someone from the DWP to come out and see me they made it really difficult.
That’s when I spoke to my ex-partner about my feelings and she found Mental Health and Money Advice. I was referred to the support service through Rethink Mental Illness; it literally changed my life.
I spoke to an advisor on the phone who listened to what was going on and they explained that I should be getting benefits. They did a welfare benefits check and then helped me to apply for Universal Credit. The advisor gave me advice around the benefits system and arranged a Work Capability Assessment to be done at home. They also booked me a doctor’s appointment which meant I could get a doctor’s note. I also got a referral to see a psychological wellbeing practitioner.
The journey has been long, but I am now receiving Universal Credit and in a much better financial position. I feel less stressed and my mental health has improved dramatically.
Thanks to the adviser’s persistence I now have coping strategies through cognitive behavioural therapy. I’m now able to leave the house and go to the shops and library. I have even started going to the park with my son for a kick-about, which just wasn’t possible before. The impact this has had on my life can’t be underestimated.
I know I still have a way to go, but thanks to Mental Health and Money Advice I have improved my confidence and built up some skills to better manage my situation. I want to tell my story so that other people who have experiences money and mental health stress can understand that there is help out there.
"Group members all have their own issues, but we all come together for support and that’s what helped me."