Sefton Council reminds residents of mental health debt respite scheme

05 July 2023 3 min read

Sefton Council is reminding residents of the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space, available in Sefton. The respite scheme pauses someone’s debts while they are receiving mental health crisis treatment.

A Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space is designed to stop a person who is receiving mental health crisis treatment from being contacted by someone they owe money to. It also means fees and interest on their debts they are being charged will be paused during their treatment.

Breathing Space

An image of a woman with her head in her hands. A piece of paper with "debt, bill" written on is behind her. Underneath it reads: What is Breathing Space? A new scheme set up by the government to pause someone's debts while they are receiving Mental Health Crisis Treatment. If the person is not in receipt of crisis treatment they can request a standard breathing space by speaking to a debt advisor."A Breathing Space helps create time and space for you to get the treatment you need without having to worry about your debts growing or your creditors contacting them during their treatment.

It also stops enforcement action such as eviction, disconnection and bailiffs.


People receiving mental health crisis treatment can apply to the Breathing Space scheme themselves or someone can apply on their behalf. The people who can make a referral on your behalf are:

  • Your carer.
  • Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP).
  • Your Care Coordinator.
  • Mental Health Nurses.
  • Social Workers.
  • Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs).

Referrals are made to the Council where an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) will check your eligibility and then sign an evidence form to say that you are receiving mental health crisis treatment.

The evidence form is sent to a debt adviser who will obtain a copy of your credit reference file to check your outstanding debts. They may also contact you to get more information.

You Breathing Space will start the day after the debt adviser receives your application.

Financial worries

Every 30 days the debt adviser will check whether you are still receiving crisis treatment. Your Breathing Space will end 30 days after your crisis treatment finishes.

Once your Breathing Space ends, you will need debt advice from your current debt adviser or a different one.

Councillor Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “Sadly, the increased cost of living is affecting many people in Sefton and bills can be a daily worry for some.

“Paying off debts or managing finances should be the last thing on a person’s mind when they’re going through a mental health crisis.

“The Breathing Space scheme is a way for someone to pause those financial worries while they focus on their health and get the treatment that they need. It can provide peace of mind and give that person the opportunity to recover.”

To make a referral for a Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space referral please contact Sefton Council on 0151 934 3737 and ask to make a referral.

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