Today’s announcement about a new Debt and Mental Health Form (DMHEF) that replaces all previous versions, may have understandably passed you by. News regarding the fourth version of an administrative form does not sound that exciting, whilst the title of the form itself is not the most eye/ear-catching.
However, there is more to this announcement than just the publication of a new, simpler and shorter form. Changes to the charges and the way in which the form is to be used suggest this version of the DMHEF may be about to make its most significant impact yet.
1. A tool for the most challenging situations
The DMHEF was first launched in 2008 by the Money Advice Liaison Group to provide advisers and creditors with a way to collect external evidence about a customer’s mental health situation. This evidence was intended to help creditors decide what support to give to that customer.
Much has changed since the introduction of the first DMHEF. Many creditors are having better conversations with customers about disclosed mental health conditions than in the past. These conversations, depending on the circumstances, often provide all the information needed to make a decision on how to support a customer. In some cases, the circumstances require a simple confirmation that a customer does have a mental health condition. A prescription, clinic letters or similar, can sometimes be all that is needed to help decide what action to take – a straightforward process for both the firm and the customer.
As a result, this new DMHEF should be seen as an option only where a customer’s situation is complex, unusual or in doubt. It should be a tool for the most challenging situations, one of many options, rather than the first and only tool to reach for.
2. No more charges from GPs in England
Crucially, as of 1st October 2019, GPs in England will no longer be allowed to charge where they agree to complete the DMHEF. This is welcome news and means that thousands of people will no longer be asked to find money they simply do not have for the form to be completed. A huge amount of credit goes to Money and Mental Health Policy Institute who launched their ‘Stop the Charge’ campaign in 2016. This work, supported by the Money Advice Trust and others led to Theresa May, the then Prime Minister, promising to review the form with the aim of ending charging.
Following many meetings and back and forth over more than two years between creditors, health professionals and the advice sector, agreement was reached on a new approach and one that was free of charges in England.
This is not the end of this work though. We will continue to work with the devolved nations to see if this approach can be introduced everywhere.
3. A change of location
One further change is that the new version of the form and all supporting information is now hosted on the Money Advice Trust website at www.moneyadvicetrust.org/dmhef. Here you will find user guides specifically written for creditors, debt advisers, health and social care professionals and members of the public, along with further information about when and how to use the form.
Getting to this point has taken a lot of hard work from Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Money Advice Liaison Group, Money Advice Trust, UK Finance, Credit Services Association, Department of Health and Social Care and others. But, importantly, this effort will hopefully make a practical difference to many people.
I encourage you to take a look at resources to find out more about the changes and the new form.
Further information is available at www.moneyadvicetrust.org/dmhef.