By Matthew Tynan, 10 October 2018
“The biggest killer of men under the age of 50…is themselves.”
Today is Wednesday 10th October 2018, which if you didn’t already know is an important day in the calendar: it’s World Mental Health Day.
It’s objective is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and improve support for people who suffer from mental health illness.
The issue is one which is close to the heart of several people at Hillman Saunders, and is one of the reason why our chosen charity partner is Mind. So over the next few weeks and months we’ll be publishing blogs and articles about our research and experiences, with the hope of shedding a bit more light into what is a slightly dark corner of the insurance sector.
Of course, if you have experiences you’d like to share, please do get in touch – only by all openly talking can we start to tackle this problem.
So let’s start with some statistics. According to AdviserPlus in 2013, the UK Financial Services sector has the highest percentage of employee absence attributed to mental health illness. At 33.9%, it’s considerably higher than 24% in Retail and 22% in Utilities. And yes you read the 2013 right, but we’ll come onto that later.
So it seems like a big problem. Which would make you think that if you wanted to obtain support or more information about mental health in the UK’s Insurance sector, it would be easy – right?
Well, that’s exactly what I did, and the resulting blog you’re reading describes the journey I had – and the ultimate conclusions I made.
So let’s start with the easiest thing to do: google the most generic search term: Mental Health Insurance. However, when you google ‘Mental Health Insurance’, the top ten answers are all to do with insurance cover for people who have suffered from a mental health illness.
Things get slightly better when you google ‘Mental Health Financial Services’, where for these keywords I found between three and five articles depending on whether I googled in Central London or at home (home counties). The links to each are at the foot of this article but two things really struck me:
- The top article is over a year old, is very short, is from an HR publication rather than FS and is simply referencing the article from AdviserPlus above, which no longer exists on the original link.
- One article is written by a job board in 2013, one by a consultancy (and isn’t relevant) and one by an American virtual email assistant company!
What I’m trying to get across from the bullets above is not what’s there – but instead what isn’t there: not one article by a Financial Services organisation, and to a far lesser extent a mental health charity they support.
However, the one article by an FS publication demonstrates a very important point: 68% of FS professionals would use wellbeing services covering mental health if they were offered them. And according to this article in The City UK, the UK FS industry employed 2.2 million people in 2017. So by my reckoning that’s just under 1.5million people in FS would use mental health services at work if they were offered them. And barely an article about it in sight. Which gives you a scale of the problem.
If you want to take the illness to its worst possible conclusion, Googling ‘Financial Services Suicide’ uncovers several more UK-based articles (again at the foot of this article). These tend to be titillating in nature (such as the magic roundabout) or focus on only senior people, rather than looking at the epidemic on the whole. Because what we’re looking for is the ratio of the 100 per week / 5000 per year men who kill themselves.
FS is not immune from this – quite the opposite. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the second most likely group of men (out of nine categories) to kill themselves between 2011 and 2015 matches the profile of an FS professional. And there are also several very interesting articles in the footnote that cover the trend through financial depressions and recessions over the last 100 years.
Which leaves us one article from eFinancial Careers that references a mental health article by Legal & General, which in turn references data from the Health and Safety Executive from 2011/2012. Trying to find it on the L&G site was fruitless, and only threw up one other website covering the article, below as usual.
Pretty sparse right? And frankly not good enough. Companies like Goldman Sachs have appointed a Head of Wellness in the past, and it’s clearly a big problem if mental health clinics such CPG (City Psychology Group) with offices in Canary Wharf and Liverpool St can employ over 20 doctors and 6 specialists.
The next article I write will cover how mental health affected a member of my family, and it’s effects on me at a young age. After that, I will attempt to go straight to source to create my own article from HSE data, but for now, the research for this article has been time enough. After over 3 hours of research this author could only find one article on mental health in insurance, and even then it was covered by two publications rather than on the insurer’s actual website. In turn, it simply used stats from HSE.
Time for a change? I think so.
Over the next few weeks and months there are several interesting and exciting things happening to do with this topic – especially in the Lloyd’s Insurance market – and we will be sharing some great information as and when they happen.
If you’d like to discuss absolutely anything in the meantime, you can contact me via any of the following methods:
“Mental Health Financial Services”
“Financial Services Suicide”