The Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA
) has held its very first professional development day to focus solely on the issue of mental health.
Mental stresses come at brokers from multiple different angles, FBAA executive director Peter White told Australian Broker
“We are in a highly stressful environment. Living on commissions is not an easy gig, let alone the regulatory stress that we’re put under. It comes in different directions to us and it’s just something we can’t turn a blind eye to.”
The event itself was held in Melbourne yesterday (14 September) with more than 130 brokers in attendance. Five specialist speakers presented on the day including founder of the Workplace Mental Health Institute Pedro Diaz and Beyond Blue ambassador Tony McManus.
“Everybody was very supportive and very much on par with needing to have this conversation on mental health. As an industry, we tend probably not to talk about this.”
According to ASIC data, there are more than 26,000 consumer brokers in Australia including those beyond the home loan space, White said.
“With one in five people suffering a mental health disorder right this moment, the person within a couple of desks of you is probably having struggles of their own.”
It’s important for brokers to know where these struggles could go especially with one person committing suicide every three hours in Australia from a mental health issue, he said.
“It’s something that is close to all of us and is something as an industry we tend not to talk about. We need to have the conversation sooner rather than later to make sure that people are ok because once you get beyond that, that’s when you need professional intervention. Sometimes, that comes a bit too late.”
The stigma around acknowledging mental health issues stems from broking in the past which used to be a more male-dominated industry, White said.
“Blokes just don’t talk about it and they should. It’s not tough to talk about problems like this. Of course, it’s not exclusive to men but I think that’s part of the historic problem. We want to see those barriers removed. And of course, this isn’t just a male problem. Sometimes it affects women as well and in some areas more so.”
The topic of mental health will also be brought up at the FBAA’s industry conference this November with Angry Anderson of Rose Tattoo giving his thoughts on the issue.
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