A lack of a good work-life balance, as well as the fact that insurance work by nature holds a lot of client responsibility, caused Claire Russell, Founder & CEO of Mental Health in Business, to struggle with her mental health.
Russell told BIBA that people working in the insurance sector are often pushing themselves to the limit, and this, teamed with the fact that there are barriers that prevent people speaking up when they are struggling for a fear of this being seen as weak, is causing many others to struggle.
Reflecting the sentiments of policyholders
Russell cited studies – achingly similar to those that health and IPMI insurers have conducted among their policyholders – that revealed that insurance professionals have experienced issues with managing client relationships, colleague relationships and general human connections since working from home due to the pandemic.
It seems contrary to learn of these struggles, especially as mental health support has become so inherently part of health insurance offerings these days (see here, here and here). Indeed, Russell notes that the industry has certainly made some advances in the last few years, but it is still difficult for individuals to put their hand up and admit they are struggling and need help.
BIBA launched a series of mental health workshops for its members in 2021, and Russell feels that this development, as well as the response from BIBA members, shows that there is an appetite for change.
The importance of language
Much still needs to change, however. Russell identifies that a tailored approach to mental wellbeing support is crucial as not everyone is in the same boat – we are all dealing with different challenges, domestic situations and we all respond differently to things, she explained.
Russell also emphasised that eradicating any what she calls ‘stigma’ that might be associated with mental health (and Russell believes that there is still an unacceptable level of this) would also rely on an upheaval of the language used when talking about it. Changing the language surrounding mental health plays a key role in establishing healthy workplace cultures, she says.