On 4th May 2021, new legislation was introduced to give people in England and Wales receiving mental health crisis treatment a break from some of their financial worries.

The Mental Health Access to Breathing Space Scheme will help take the pressure off people with debt issues while they are receiving crisis treatment and up to 30 days after.

We are delighted to be running the scheme through our Mental Health & Money Advice Service.

Worrying about finances can cause, and worsen someone’s mental health, but having support of this kind will address people’s debt issues and also aid their long-term recovery.


Referrals can be made by a nurse, social worker, care co-ordinator, the patient’s informal carer or the person in crisis themselves, but they must be certified by an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP).

To refer people to the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space a person must:

  • be in crisis treatment whether via a crisis house, crisis home treatment team, community mental health team or have been detained under the Mental Health Act.
  • have the application approved by an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) who will need to complete an evidence form to prove eligibility and suitability for the scheme.
  • have their completed form submitted to the Mental Health and Money Advice website who will then manage the referral process and if approved will be in touch every 30 days to see whether an extension is required.

E-learning is available for:

  • AMHPs who may be asked to provide evidence for an application
  • All other health and social care professionals who may be the ‘Nominated Point of Contact’ and be asked to deal with requests from debt advice providers related to a mental health crisis Breathing Space

HM Treasury also provides useful Guidance on Breathing Space for mental health professionals.

People facing debt with a mental health condition but who aren’t in crisis, may be eligible to apply for the regular Breathing Space scheme preventing creditors from enforcing debts and adding interest and charges for up to 60 days.

Help shape the Breathing Space service

As an independent agency, IFF Research, has been commissioned by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) to evaluate the first pilot year of the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space (MHCBS). This is your opportunity to have your say and shape the delivery of the MHCBS programme!

IFF Research wants to speak with people in the following groups who have been involved with the MHCBS programme:

  • Customers
  • Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs)
  • Nominated Points of Contact (NPOCs)

You can find more information about the research by visiting the IFF research page or you can contact the IFF team on MHCBSresearch@iffresearch.com or call 020 7250 3035 and ask for Hannah Goldwyn Simpkins.


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Peter’s story

Peter* lives in the West Midlands and has debts including utility arrears, council tax arrears, loans and credit cards.  Peter’s debts were really getting him down, his mental health deteriorated to the point where he couldn’t work, and he was under the care of his local crisis team. Seeing what affect the debts were having on him, and how they were preventing his recovery, the crisis team referred him for a mental health crisis breathing space. Peter told us:

“Before my breathing space I felt like I was hiding behind my doors.  I was scared to answer the phone.  Now, I feel like there is a real weight off my shoulders. I’m not scared of the debt collectors anymore.”

Peter has now left the care of the crisis team, so his breathing space is coming to an end, and he is seeking advice for a long-term solution for his debts. He has joined a walking and mental health support group which he really enjoys. Peter hopes that as his mental health improves further, he will be able to return to work.

*Peter's name has been changed to protect his identity.


We are grateful to the governmental Money and Pensions Service for funding this scheme.

Contact us

If you would like to speak to a member of staff regarding Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space, please call 0808 801 0745.
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