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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

News article

Publication date:

22 May 2020

Last updated:

26 May 2020

Author(s):

Policy and Public Affairs

Resources and support are available for firms and individuals to promote good wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place across 18th-24th May 2020 in the UK. The theme this year is ’kindness’, something which is now more important than ever due to the impact of the coronavirus. A series of activities and initiatives are taking place all week aimed at helping everyone to remember to take care of each other and of ourselves[1].

Everyone has mental health, however some people have better mental health than others. Many of us have made significant changes to our daily lives because of COVID-19. But while we follow government recommendations around social distancing, maintaining positive mental health and good wellbeing during these extreme circumstances presents an extra challenge.

According to Mental Health UK, one in four people in the UK have experienced a mental health problem. The current pandemic has created additional stress for many, whether it’s financial pressures, providing caring duties while working or working from home in less than ideal surroundings, everyone is facing their own set of challenges.

In response to this, Mental Health UK have created a set of resources[2] to help improve and maintain mental health during these unprecedented times. The tools provided include support for those working remotely, those balancing childcare responsibilities and those who have been furloughed.

Insurance is one of many professions that can be very stressful. Many customers are relying on insurance to keep them protected or to provide financial restoration. As a result, many products and services and coming under greater scrutiny and review, with many difficult and sometimes disappointing conversations occurring. The stress of increased workloads, pressures and harrowing cases means that advisers can be just as much in need of emotional support as the customers they are trying to help.  

To address these continued pressures, Mental Health UK have created materials to help maintain a healthier work-life balance that can be applied to remote working[3], including:

  • A stress bucket
  • A wellbeing plan
  • 5 top tips for mental wellbeing
  • How to manage stress and build resilience

Mental Health UK also provide organisations with tools and support to improve mental health in the workplace[4]. Mental health training is just one of the ways they are changing the experience of living with poor mental health across the UK. By educating workplaces it is possible to create an open culture that helps to break the stigma associated with mental health. A suggested first point of action could be to recommend employees  to speak to their line-manager or HR (if you have one), and develop a mental health plan together (or yourself if you are an Independent Financial Adviser).

The importance of raising awareness of issues surrounding mental health is highlighted by Roy Mcloughlin, Associate Director at Cavendish Ware, who says:

“We now live in a society where thankfully the subject of mental awareness and illness is no longer the taboo subject that it undoubtedly was. In conjunction with Cover magazine we have launched the Novad campaign which takes an inward look at ourselves pointing out that we are as vulnerable a group as any to this, and advisers will arguably need support services particularly during the COVID crisis. If we can all grasp this proverbial nettle then it will in turn (not then) make the empathy and understanding of clients situations more realistic too. Mental Health UK have some excellent resources and we would encourage advisers to view all the relevant info. Together we will help each other.”

The Chartered Insurance Institute previously created A guide to implementing the Thriving at Work standards for the insurance profession on managing mental health in the workplace, published in partnership with the mental health charity Mind. It contains tips for the insurance profession on putting in practice the six mental health ‘core standards’ outlined in the ‘Thriving at Work’ independent review of mental health at work, commissioned by the Prime Minister in 2017 and led by Lord Dennis Stevenson and the Chief Executive of Mind Paul Farmer. This is in addition to a series of more ambitious ‘enhanced’ standards for employers who are able to do more to lead the way. The guide also contains other useful tools and resources to help organisations better support employees’ mental health.

Johnny Timpson, Financial Protection Specialist at Scottish Widows, also highlights the continued need to support customers:

“As someone with both lived experience of the impact that a mental health Issue can have on personal and business life and relationships and as Cabinet Office Disability Champion for Insurance,  I fully appreciate and welcome the steps that our industry and profession to better support consumers and colleague living with and beyond mental health events. This said, it’s essential we recognise that there's still much we can do to support our customer's mental health and provide our most vulnerable customers with increased access to the insurance, pension and wealth advice, products, services and where required, signposting to specialists that they need.

In Mental Health Awareness Week, no better time than now?... By giving easier and greater access to appropriate financial resilience advice and solutions (particularly protection and the life-changing support services now very much a feature of them) we can equip those consumers, clients and colleagues living with mental health pressures with the right tools to enable them to remain resilient to physical and mental health related earned and unearned income shocks plus support their recovery now and in the future.”

Promoting good mental health practices needs to have a full 360 approach that recognises and actions the needs from the top level down to their employees and serving their customers.

 

[1] https://mentalhealth-uk.org/get-involved/mental-health-awareness-week/

[2] https://mentalhealth-uk.org/coronavirus-information-support/

[3] https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/downloadable-resources/

[4] https://mentalhealth-uk.org/training-and-consultancy/

This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), the CII group, local institute or Society, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the CII group, local institutes, or Societies.

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