Stress in the City – calls for finance industry to tackle widespread stress
Firms need to show bravery and openness to address the problems with stress and mental health in the city, say the Health Insurance Group.
They claim that unknowns surrounding so-called hard Brexit, dwindling job security, increased regulatory scrutiny and long working hours are taking a toll on the mental health of those working in the city’s financial sector.
The global financial crisis, the resulting meltdown, and the subsequent disruption as financial institutions have by necessity undergone rapid cultural and structural change, have pushed city stress levels into the stratosphere.
Reuters said British banks have cut 186,111 jobs since the 2008 crisis. Estimates for the impact of Brexit vary but the most sobering is a warning that in total more than 230,000 jobs could be lost.
“Work-related stress is epidemic but many forward-thinking employers are tackling the issue responsibly, adopting comprehensive or full-service wellbeing solutions that include access to counsellors, mental health advice and stress-relieving activities like yoga or gym-memberships,“ commented Brett Hill, managing director for The Health Insurance Group. “But while the city has been praised for its investments in resilience training and wellness at work initiatives stress remains a taboo, carrying with it a heavy stigma.”
YouGov surveyed 20,000 people in work across the UK and found that 77 per cent of employees said they had experienced some kind of mental health problem. Tellingly, 56% said their employers took no mitigating action. Similarly, in a survey among decision makers at financial institutions around 70% said they would not notify their bosses if they had a problem, believing an admission of anxiety or mental health issues could damage their career prospects. Many more cases go unreported.
“The support systems are in place but attitudes and culture can still seem less than compassionate so it is vital that employers ensure that they have an effective strategy in place, particularly for mental health and stress. A mental health condition can be classed as a disability if it has a considerable and lasting effect on a person’s capabilities in terms of carrying out day to day activities. If an employer understands their responsibilities then the right support can be provided with the appropriate sensitivity, avoiding potential liabilities if a business got things wrong.”
When driven from the top and with an understanding of the importance of an holistic approach to health and wellbeing, the improvements could be life changing.
“Firms should be showing both bravery and openness in addressing the stigmas of stress and mental health in the city,” concluded Hill.