The importance of mental health in financial services cannot be overstated and it is something that affects businesses as much as individuals who have mental illnesses.
NIBA Young Professional Broker of the Year, Craig Anderson of Austbrokers believes in having authentic conversations around the topic, he says, “For me is doesn’t really matter how the conversation is started – provided it is thoughtful and genuine. Things have come a long way over the last decade and events like RUOK Day form a great opportunity to begin a conversation that could change someone’s life.”
One in five people in Australia are now living with a mental health disability. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that 45 per cent of people will experience a personal mental health disorder challenge in their lifetime. Anderson stresses that it is incredibly important that the insurance broking industry fosters mentally healthy workplaces, “We are in a high pressure profession that can lead to significant levels of stress at a variety of times throughout the year. We spend so much time together that often colleagues are best placed to notice changes in behaviour. ”
“Apart from the clear benefits to employees that a mentally healthy workplace provides, it also benefits the employers. Studies show a significant return on investment in mental health in the workplace by reducing presentism, improving the organisations social impact and engaging staff on levels previously not touched.” Many mental illnesses go untreated. More than 50 per cent of people with mental illness do not access any treatment, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It has been shown that, when left untreated, mental illnesses can lead to significant financial burdens for employers. Poor mental health costs Australian businesses about $10.9 billion every year due to absenteeism, reduced workplace productivity and compensation claims.
JLT and Austbrokers hosted a powerful talk on mental health as a part of the Dive In Festival to encourage meaningful, practical action to inspire positive change. It was discussed at the event that mental health in the workplace is the last and most difficult frontier for the issue.
He opens up about his own struggles, “I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression when I was 21 years old. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic support network of family and colleagues who noticed I hadn’t been myself for months and encouraged me to seek help. I immediately started researching the treatments available and after trying most I have found a balance that seems to work for me.”
Understanding how lucky he was motivated him to advocate for the issue, “I was blessed to have such a great support network around me when I needed it most and realising this isn’t the case for a lot of people – so it is very important to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues so people feel conformable discussing it. I have received a lot of assistance from various amazing organisations (including my employers) over the years and I feel this is the best way I can thank them. I still think there is a misconception that it is a sign of weakness which couldn’t be further from the truth.”
He goes on to say that he found the insurance broking profession to be very supportive, “I have been honest with all of my employers and the reaction has been exclusively positive which is a credit to the industry as a whole.”