herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Banks accused of making people sick with stress over their financial difficulties

IRISH people are suffering serious mental and physical health strains due to massive financial pressure.

Dublin-based psychologist Allison Keating said that people's lives were at risk due to the action of financial institutions.

"I've really seen a massive increase in people with major financial pressure," she said.

"The one thing that I've noticed is that it is often men. They might publicly appear very wealthy and healthy, but they are not even sharing with their family.

"Maybe they have a business and they are in trouble but they won't even tell their partner, They are in an awful trap; they lose hope, they are very isolated and very negative.

"These are the three things that we look out for that can indicate that an individual is thinking of suicide."



SMOG

The director of the bWell Clinic, Malahide, noted that when she referred her clients to a GP for examination on their physical health, they were often wishing the worst.

"I hear from some people who are physically sick saying, 'I wouldn't mind if it was cancer. At least my family would be looked after'," she said.

"My fear is, does that person think 'My family would be better off, at least the mortgage would be paid'? On so many levels this is wrong."

Ms Keating said that there was a "smog of negativity everywhere", but she believes it is important that Irish people come out and be honest about their position.

"During the boom times there was a lot of anxiety, but it was a different kind of pressure -- it was trying to keep up with the Joneses. They were workaholics," she said.

"It has now turned much darker. Once a month we would see suicide idolisation at the clinic; now we are seeing it every second day."

The clinical psychologist said that bank employees were also suffering from the pressure that they were asked to put people under when they issue letters demanding repayments.

"I wonder about the employees in the bank. I think they would feel under huge pressure themselves," she said. "People say that they are only following authority. We as humans are able for a huge amount of conformity.

"We do see people under massive pressure, they put pressure on themselves."

Ms Keating said that the stress people were experiencing was having a detrimental effect on their health. "If hope is gone it is so serious. The physical stress it is putting people under is horrific," she said.

She advised people in this situation to take a step back and re-evaluate.

"The first thing is to be honest about where you're at, whether this is going to debt manage-ment agencies or even going back to the bank," she said. "Just talk to someone and get support."

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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