Mental health crisis breathing space

If you are receiving mental health crisis treatment, and struggling with problem debt, this scheme could give you some breathing space.

What is a mental health crisis breathing space?

A mental health crisis breathing space will help stop you being chased or charged fees and interest on your debts for as long as you are receiving crisis treatment, and for 30 days after your treatment ends. The aim is to create time and space for you to get the treatment you need, without having to worry about your debts growing or your creditors contacting you during your treatment.

The Government set up this scheme to provide protection for people who are in problem debt. Visit their website for more information about the breathing space scheme.

How does the scheme work?

With your consent, we can send an evidence form to a debt adviser on your behalf, to request a mental health crisis breathing space.

If you want to go ahead, but are worried that your creditors may be violent, we can ask the debt adviser not to share your address with them. We will ask you if you want the debt adviser to consider this.

To help our Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) ask for a breathing space for you, we need some information about you. If you consent, you, or someone acting on your instruction, can complete the referral form to provide this information.

What happens if I give my consent?

One of our AMHPs will look at the information you provide and your health and social care records to check if you are eligible. They will then complete an evidence form with:

  • Your contact details
  • A nominated point of contact
  • Your date of birth
  • A statement that you are in mental health crisis treatment, and
  • Information about your debts or income

They will share the evidence form with a debt adviser.

The debt adviser will share the information we provide in the form with other organisations, including:

  • The Insolvency Service (the breathing space scheme administrator)
  • Your creditors and their agents, and
  • Credit reference agencies

This is needed to establish your financial situation and make sure your creditors know you are protected by the scheme. Your creditors will be notified that you are in a mental health crisis breathing space. But they will not be given any specific information about your condition or your treatment. The debt adviser will also tell you what they are doing on your behalf and explain how they will protect your personal information.

The debt adviser will try to contact you after your treatment ends, to offer you help to manage your debts. In some circumstances, you may be eligible for a further breathing space. The debt adviser can help you with this.

The Insolvency Service will tell your nominated point of contact when your mental health crisis breathing space starts and finishes. The Insolvency Service publishes a privacy notice online.

You have a right to know how your personal information has been shared in the scheme. If you want to know more about this, your nominated point of contact or your debt adviser can answer your questions and direct you to the relevant privacy notices.

How does the council use my information?

Southampton City Council keeps your personal data for up to seven years after you have ceased to receive a service from us.

We will only use the information you provide on the referral form for the purpose of asking for a mental health crisis breathing space for you. We will look at your health (Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust) and our records for the purpose of checking that you are in crisis treatment

As your information is confidential, AMHPs will only use your information if you consent. If you do not give consent they cannot ask for a mental health crisis breathing space for you. You can withdraw your consent to our use of your information before it is shared with the debt adviser by:

After you consent to the AMHP sharing your information, the legal basis for the use and sharing of your information is General Data Protection Regulations:

  • Article 6 (1) e task carried out in the public interest, and
  • Article 9 (2) g for reasons of substantial public interest

You have some legal rights in respect of the personal information we collect from you. Please see our Data Protection information for further details.

You can contact the city council’s Data Protection Officer at

If you have a concern about how we are collecting or using your personal data, you should raise your concern with us in the first instance. Alternatively, contact the Information Commissioner’s Officer.

How do I apply for a mental health crisis breathing space?

You can refer yourself, or someone else, for a mental health crisis breathing space by completing our referral form.

Referral Form

Send the completed form to the AMHP team at: and this will be processed within five working days.