Six ways to improve mental health in financial services

Things are not always sunny side up, and when employees struggle with mental health issues, the whole business suffers. Learning to communicate and resolve issues is crucial

Feedback from readers and industry commenters about the recent New Model Adviser® podcast on mental health in financial services has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people contacted us directly to say how helpful they found the episode.

We will be following up this topic in future episodes and in this magazine, but for those who missed it, here are the key takeaways from the episode.

You can listen to the podcast, with the lang cat's Steve Nelson here. 

Feedback from readers and industry commenters about the recent New Model Adviser® podcast on mental health in financial services has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people contacted us directly to say how helpful they found the episode.

We will be following up this topic in future episodes and in this magazine, but for those who missed it, here are the key takeaways from the episode.

You can listen to the podcast, with the lang cat's Steve Nelson here. 

1. Do not be reductivist

The conversation about workplace mental illness should not be generalised. When complex problems are reduced to mere categorisations, it is easy to lose sight of their nuances and precise practical impact. This is true for mental health, which at the moment is enjoying more time in the spotlight as employers tackle what is becoming an all-too-common problem in the workplace.

Remember banners, badges and categorisations can be unhelpful. They trivialise and encourage the mixing-up of very different problems. Treat day-to-day anxiety with the same sincerity as obsessive compulsive disorder, but be mindful they are very different.

2. Give staff room to recover

Absenteeism can be very negative for business, but it could also be an investment. We all know the story. When people are ill, they rightly take time off work. If this becomes persistent, productivity can decrease. However, do not forget time away from the coalface can be immeasurably helpful.

Look at any cost to your business incurred as a result of an employee’s illness as an investment in them first and foremost.

Treating employees with the dignity they need means they will probably return, and hopefully be just as productive – if not more – than when they left.

3. Make conversations on mental health more comfortable

A more open conversation about mental health in the workplace will hopefully lead to individual empowerment. This is the practical difference between someone suffering in silence or feeling confident enough to declare when they are having a bad day, or indeed really suffering.

In short: help people help themselves. But that is only possible when the stigma of talking about mental health is lifted, which requires group action. The two approaches go hand in hand.

4. Remember we are all human

Our podcast drew out one particular example that will ring very true to readers working under a tremendous amount of pressure: the replatforming nightmare experienced by several major life companies in the past year.

That situation has involved a degree of failure in certain situations. But let us not forget we are all human. To err is human, as the saying goes. Do not forget that when it comes to dealing with employees of the providers you deal with on a daily basis.

5. Lose the jargon

Employers have become better at dealing with mental health, but there are notable areas of improvement needed.

Our guest in this episode was Steve Nelson (pictured), consulting director at The Lang Cat. He described in candid terms the response of his former employer (a major brand in the life and pensions space) when he experienced a period of very poor mental health.

Initially, the company handled the situation sympathetically, he said. But in the weeks following it fell into the trap of turning him into an administrative ‘item’ to be ‘dealt with’ or ‘processed’ at human resources level.

Keep communication to those in difficulty honest, open, humane and jargon-free.

6. Mental health care packs

Someone who suffers from mental illness could assemble a list to inform middle managers about the specifics of what they might experience on a day-to-day basis. For instance, they might confidentially inform their boss that if they exhibit a certain behaviour (restlessness, or maybe an above average level of introversion) things might not be as well as they seem.

Hopefully that puts managers on the front foot, and specifically avoids vulnerable workers having to ‘confess’ their problems at the point of crisis.

Listen to our podcast here.

Share this story

More Content

ADVICE

3 Comments Breakfast Club: From offshore oil worker to running an advice firm

Breakfast Club: From offshore oil worker to running an advice firm

Jennifer Ellis runs Wellington Wealth alongside sister Nicola Ellis, emphasising the importance of family and client service

twitter_banner

INVESTMENT