Last updated: 25.04.12

Virtual learning environment to help people collect debts from mentally ill

A new e-learning tool has been created to help debt collection agencies deal with members of the public who have mental health problems in a sensitive and effective manner.The virtual learning environment was delivered by the Money Advice Trust, with assistance from Rethink Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), on behalf of BCW Group, which invested in the technology.It is hoped the online training programs will enable debt collection employees to become more aware of the symptoms of certain psychological issues and alter their techniques when dealing with people who are affected by these problems.This should strengthen the skill set held by BCW Group staff and support them in dealing effectively with a range of scenarios.It should also help them to understand the differences between stress and mental health problems and assist them in responding accordingly.A recent investigation undertaken by the RCP revealed as many as half of all adults in the UK with 'problem debts' could have mental illnesses, with owing money to individuals and organisations thought to be both a consequence and cause of psychological disorders.Every 30 seconds, an employee from a debt collection agency will have to consider how to recover money from a customer who claims to have a mental illness, which can be challenging for the companies they work for as well as the member of staff themselves, the psychiatrist organisation remarked.BCW Group managing director Bryan Mouat said: "The new e-learning tool will give our guys a fuller understanding of the difficulties faced by customers with mental health issues and further enhance our ability to deliver a professional and respectful service."He noted his company has "always placed great emphasis on staff training and ensuring that our employees are well informed about relevant legislation and best practice techniques".The firm recognises how important it is for staff to be continually developed to make sure they are well supported in all of their duties and can deal with individuals who have mental health problems in the best possible manner, the representative argued.