Ecclesiastical Backs BIBA’s Lead on Better Mental Health in the Workplace

Research carried out by the specialist insurer found that brokers are reluctant to talk about mental health issues in the workplace. With April marking stress awareness month, Ecclesiastical is throwing its support behind BIBA’s manifesto call for insurance businesses to create a more open culture about mental wellbeing.

Just one in three brokers say they would feel comfortable talking to their manager about mental health issues. Even fewer (26%) would approach their HR department, with brokers more likely to phone a confidential helpline such as the Samaritans (33%). Men over 35 are the least likely to open up about their issues, the survey of 250 brokers found.

When asked what support brokers needed to deal with stress related issues, the top response was better support from management, followed by more awareness and understanding of the impacts of stress. Brokers also called for the industry to do more to reduce the stigma.

Some broker businesses are leading the way, with 38% of brokers saying their company is making efforts to create a more supportive culture, and 23% saying their company offers advice and guidance on how to deal with stress.

Ecclesiastical previously revealed that brokers are more likely to suffer from stress than the average financial services worker with 78% admitting to feeling stressed at work. Recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that the rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety has increased in recent years with 15.4 million working days lost across the UK economy in 2017/18.

Adrian Saunders, Commercial Director at Ecclesiastical, said: “While there is some good work being done to create a more open culture in broker businesses, our research shows there is a stigma around mental health. Brokers, especially older men, are reluctant to talk about their issues.

“The benefits of a happier, more engaged workforce are well documented and the challenge for businesses is creating a workplace environment where everyone feels able to talk about mental health issues. We are pleased to see that BIBA is taking the lead by highlighting the issue and bringing the conversation to its annual conference.”

The BIBA conference, which opens on 16 May, will see household names Freddie Flintoff, Professor Green and Katie Piper talk about living with their mental health issues.

Steve White, BIBA’s chief executive, said: “Ecclesiastical’s research pinpoints concerns in our sector around mental health. We are committed to helping members understand more about mental wellbeing and I’m happy to say there is a great deal of interest in this subject from them. We would like to see all organisations in our sector have a culture of openness on this subject.  I was delighted to pull together our conference panel, the session is proving hugely popular – a pointer to the interest and empathy brokers have in relation to this.”

Ecclesiastical Insurance is committed to changing the conversation around mental health and supports a number of programmes to promote better mental wellbeing. Mental health training for all managers has recently been rolled out and the insurer has also introduced counselling support and wellness action plans.

In May, Ecclesiastical will be holding ‘Love your heart, love your head week’ across its UK offices encouraging staff to try something new to get healthy.  Every site will host a mindfulness session run by an expert to introduce staff to basic techniques that can help them manage stress.

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