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Harper to Lead Panel Discussion on Supportive Banking for People With Mental Health Problems

October 21, 2019

The panel discussion, “Banking for All: Why Financial Institutions Need to Offer Supportive Banking Features,” will be held Wednesday, November 6 from 12:00-1:30 pm in the Sterling Law Building Room at Yale Law School, 127 Wall St.

The program will include discussion of a report co-authored by Annie Harper, PhD, Associate Research Scientist in the Yale Department of Psychiatry and an affiliate of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health. Co-authors are Brittany Farr, PhD, and Brian Cash.

The report, published by the Community and Economic Development Clinic at Yale Law School, proposes that financial institutions offer supportive banking features to make their products and services more accessible, including customizable mobile banking notifications, self-imposed spending limits on debit cards, and view-only account access.

Panelists will include Jorge L. Perez, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Banking; Kathy Flaherty, representing the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc.; and Paul Hammer, Recovery Support Specialist at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health. Monzo Bank Limited will also send a representative to speak.

“This panel will share ways that banks and credit unions can do more to accommodate the needs of people with mental health problems, including concrete recommendations for specific financial tools and services that can promote better spending habits and enable shared and supported decision-making,” Harper said.

She said anyone with interest in psychiatric and financial health issues, accommodations for people with disabilities, financial inclusion and justice, or who has personal or family experience with mental and financial struggles should attend.

Harper is a trained anthropologist who worked in international microfinance and has a master’s degree in political economy of development.

She has researched the relationship between poverty and mental illness and was recruited in 2012 by the Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation to interview clients about their financial situations so she could formulate ideas to help.

An estimated 2.5 million adults with serious mental illness in the United States live below the federal poverty line, according to the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. Many live from disability check to disability check, and some have no income and survive on food stamps.

In 2015 Harper received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to launch a pilot study with clients who manage their own money but wanted help with finances. In 2016 she conducted research exploring the experiences of people who have or have had a payee or conservator, and those who have acted as a payee or conservator, funded by a Center for Retirement Research Sandell Grant.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on October 21, 2019