PayPlan and mental health charity SANE have come together to urge those in debt to give themselves the best gift they can by taking control of their finances in the run up to Christmas. Christmas is an exciting time of year but it can also bring a lot of anxiety and stress to people wanting to deliver a perfect Christmas, no matter what the cost.

Research suggests that financial troubles often go hand-in-hand with mental health issues which is how the pairing came about. PayPlan knows from its own experience that people feel a financial pressure at Christmas, with inquiries dropping by a quarter in December 2015, before rocketing 37% in January.

Jane Clack, money adviser at PayPlan, points out that it highlights a worrying trend: “Every year, we see a very clear debt cycle,” said Jane. “People often start to struggle in the summer as they fork out for the annual family getaway and try to keep the kids entertained over the school holidays. There’s then very little gap before Christmas advertising campaigns begin. We hear from many individuals who get swept up with the whole idea of a big Christmas. It’s so easily done and we completely understand the pressure people face at this time of year. Of course, the harsh reality then hits in January, as our figures show. Looking at the last three years, inquiries have gone up by an average of 50% in the first month of the year.  In 2015, a YouGov study showed a fifth of people were paying for Christmas using credit cards or Pay Day loans. The truth is that many are having a Christmas they simply can’t afford.”

In an attempt to help change people’s mindset about debt, PayPlan and SANE have launched a new online campaign. It features an animated Christmas poem that explains the pressures people put themselves under to be able to deliver the ‘perfect Christmas’ but questions whether the consequences are really worth it. The aim of the campaign is to highlight the reality of a debt problem and the support available to people struggling with their finances and their mental health.

.PayPlan and SANE are hoping the campaign will get people to stop and think before being swept up by the festivities.

Welcoming the partnership, SANE’s chief executive Marjorie Wallace said “This winter, SANE is partnering with PayPlan to reach out to anyone struggling to cope with financial difficulties and mental illness. For those who find themselves in trouble, the most important thing is to seek out professional help as soon as you can.”