London based Chartered Financial Planning Firm, Capital Asset Management (Capital) is partnering with Mental Health training provider In-Equilibrium to deliver training sessions to employees and develop policies to support the mental health of clients and employees.
Mental health, and more specifically how people cope with mental health issues, is a growing concern for the UK government and employers. Research by mental health charity, Mind, identify that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. Mind goes on to explain “how people cope with mental health problems is getting worse as the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing”.
In 2017, Prime Minister Teresa May tasked Lord Dennis Stevenson and the former CEO of Mind, Paul Farmer, to create a report on mental health at work. The report revealed the severe extent of the mental health issues in the UK, which was much higher than anticipated. This stressed the need for employers to do more for their staff’s wellbeing. The report proposed in 10 years’ time organisations of every size should be equipped with the awareness and tools to support workers with a mental health condition and prevent it from being worsened by work.
Mental health support
Capital and In-equilibrium’s new training sessions will focus on helping employees recognise symptoms and care for their own and colleagues’ mental health. The sessions will also cover best practice policies to safeguard employee’s mental wellbeing and how to support employees with mental health challenges. This will help direct companywide initiatives and the development of policies around mental health.
Capital’s culture is focused on promoting staff wellbeing and balance through flexible working options, private medical insurance, company day trips and socials, participating in health initiatives and benefits including gym discounts. However, the company recognises that mental health is an essential part of wellbeing and an area where they have scope to make a positive difference to their employees’ wellbeing. Capital’s new policies will reflect and acknowledge mental health difficulties in the same way as physical health, and support employees with mental health issues based on their individual needs.
Chirine Harb, Head of Operations at Capital explains “At Capital, we understand that mental health challenges and stress can affect anyone, at any time. By equipping our staff to care for and cope with mental health issues, Capital hopes to improve our staff’s overall wellbeing. Whilst cultivating a mindful, supportive and balanced culture and remove any stigma around mental health”.
To show their commitment to support mental health long-term, Capital will be signing the Time to Change Employer Pledge. Currently, over 900 employers in England across all sectors from FTSE 100 companies and leading retailers to government departments and local authorities have also made the pledge.
In-Equilibrium will also be working with the team at Capital to equip them with the essential skills to meet the needs of clients facing mental health challenges. The staff will be taught the signs and symptoms to look out for and how to support and serve these clients. As well as reviewing policies in place for clients with mental health difficulties. Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19th May) Capital will be publishing blogs and videos to help support mental health and wellbeing.
With many alarming statistics around mental health and the government encouraging employers to better support employees, the pressure is on for employers. Especially within the financial services profession, due to financial services jobs being 44% more likely than average to cause stress-related mental illness. The number of stress-related absences in financial services is 31% higher now than in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Quilter corporate affairs director, Jane Goodland, says: “Campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week play an important role in combating the stigma that prevents people from talking openly about mental health issues. A similar problem continues to exist when it comes to money. Money matters remain off limits in conversation for many people who often do not have the kind of support networks around them to deal with these challenges. Instead, when faced with problems linked to money, like debt worries or other financial problems, we tend to try to deal with it alone rather than seeking help and advice.
“Mental health and money troubles share a close link. It is often said that money alone does cannot give you happiness, and that is certainly true. But money can definitely be a source of unhappiness and potentially contribute to mental health challenges for those that find themselves in financial difficulty. Figures from the Money and Mental Policy Institute show that nearly half (46%) of people in problem debt also have a mental health problem and 86% said that their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse.
“Giving people an opportunity to talk about their financial issues can often be the first step to resolving a problem. If you’re worried about your finances and how it could impact your wellbeing and mental health, there are plenty of options. Government-backed services like The Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service can help you get on top of basic financial matters and are free to use. And charities like StepChange or Citizens Advice can provide support to those struggling with debt. Ultimately, the best way to get peace of mind and reassurance that your finances are in order and working for you is to see a financial adviser to get a complete financial plan to meet your own individual needs.
“Financial strain can be a big burden for people to carry and is not easily fixed. But whatever the scale of your financial wherewithal, it is important to build a proper financial plan so that you’re in control of your finances. That starts with understanding your outgoings and expenditures and trying to make sure you always have enough set aside to cover life’s essential costs for at least a few months if you were to lose your main source of household income or experience some other financial shock, like a costly home repair bill. Unfortunately, many people don’t have that financial buffer in place, making them vulnerable if their finances take a turn for the worse. This can easily lead to strain on someone’s mental health, especially if they’re under pressure to support themselves and a family.”
Age-related mental illness
Quilter tax and financial planning expert, Rachael Griffin, says: “Age-related mental illness is a challenge that society is gradually learning to manage. Advances in medicine, diet and lifestyle have dramatically enhanced our physical health and life expectancy, but a by-product is that many people now experience age-related mental illness in later life.
“There are lots of challenges to think about when dealing with mental health in later life, and financial matters can understandably feel like a low-priority. But it is a reality that some people may become incapacitated to the extent that they are unable to make informed financial decisions for themselves.
“The number of people now appointing a power of attorney – someone authorised to make financial decisions on their behalf if they become mentally incapacitated – has increased dramatically in recent years. It is a really valuable safety net to have in place as it provides reassurance that a trusted individual is going to be in a position to take control of your financial affairs if required. That means they’ll be able to manage your money to ensure that your finances are still taken care of.
“It also acts as a protection against the risk of being targeted by scammers during a vulnerable period in your life. Unscrupulous people may target older people, particularly those with mental health challenges, and seek to exploit them. If your finances are overseen by someone else that provides a layer of protection.
“Sadly, there have been reports of individuals targeting vulnerable older people and fraudulently appointing themselves power of attorney. This is a crime and the instances are few and far between but have happened. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to detect and the Office for the Public Guardian is trying to raise awareness of the issue among the police and other authorities. The best way to mitigate this risk is simply to appoint someone you trust as your own power of attorney sooner rather than later. Their responsibilities will only kick-in if you become mentally incapable yourself, so this is not about signing over control to someone else now. Instead, it is a case of giving yourself a safety net in place if your mental health deteriorates.”