Stigma around mental health lingers

While financial services industry has made great strides, new research highlights need for further action

Stigma around mental health lingers


By Madison Utley

While the banking and financial services industries have undoubtedly been making an effort to improve mental health support for their workers, with 85% of employees in the space saying their employer has actively pushed mental health initiatives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report has revealed the need for further action.

The research from Allianz Australia found that more than four in five banking and finance workers believe there are barriers to improving mental health within the sector, with a further 92% seeing a need for more dialogue around mental health and wellbeing to be introduced into their workplaces.

“As employers, we’re unequivocally concerned about our employees’ wellbeing. We know that improved mental health in employees across all industries greatly benefits employers and their businesses. It positively impacts individuals’ productivity, talent retention and ultimately, business performance,” said Julie Mitchell chief general manager of workers compensation at Allianz Australia.

“Yet, the challenge now is to bridge the gap between awareness of mental ill-health in the workplace, and taking action.

“We can’t take a scatter-gun approach. The priority is addressing each individual’s wellbeing – as thriving employees will lead to positive team and business outcomes. Our actions need to be meaningful to employees, and embedded throughout all organisations.”

With one in two managers across all industries saying that now, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, they feel they have more responsibility for their employees’ mental health at work, it seems clear the time has come to take action.

Allianz’s research also looked to make clear what both employees and their employers can do to drive a sustainable improvement of mental wellness in their workplaces.

Stigma appears to be a key hurdle to overcome in addressing mental ill-health in the workplace, with four in ten surveyed employees (38%) feeling mental health issues are still not taken as seriously as physical illnesses.

Other stressors named in the survey were:

  • Ineffective or unfair management (39% of employees impacted)
  • Workplace culture (33% of employees impacted)
  • Bullying and harassment (24% of employees impacted)
  • Organisational structure (24% of employees impacted)

"The COVID-19 pandemic [highlights] it’s even more important for Australian workplaces to implement the required changes to tackle these challenges now, and work to prevent them in the future,” said Mitchell.

“We believe that prioritising the wellbeing of employees, particularly the rising number of Australians experiencing mental health conditions, is key to building future, thriving workplaces,” she concluded.

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