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Stigma is still a barrier to mental wellness in financial services

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Date published: 2021/7/20


Lockdowns impede the everyday face to face interactions which can help us when we are down.

Calls to Lifeline Australia, the national suicide prevention service, have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic in 2019. With the latest lockdown, the situation just got worse.

For staff and management in financial services, we also know that companies have the same difficulties in checking on everyone’s mental wellbeing as in many other industries, for some companies more so.

This is, more than ever, the time for everyone to be conscious of how their colleagues are feeling as well as their loved ones and friends. It is, more than ever, a time for people to reach out to people.

Rob Prugue, founder and director at PROP, People Reaching Out to People, a mental health education organisation, says that calls to Lifeline and Beyond Blue are a good barometer of the mental health of the nation at a particular point of time.

He says: “One of the few positives to come out of COVID is that there seems to be a heightened awareness of the importance of mental health issues, but more needs to be done. Just as we do with fighting the biological impact from COVID-19, we equally all have a vital role to play in helping in the fight for our mental wellbeing.

“Lifeline tells us that calls to its 24-hour service jumped 25 per cent in the first two weeks of Sydney’s five-week lockdown*, and even greater in Melbourne’s fifth hard lockdown.”

Mr. Prugue says: “PROP is proud to be a partner with SuperFriend, Roses in the Ocean and TAL in developing an educational tutorial to unlearn the stigma around mental health. For PROP, we see our role to assist in the education and awareness of the problems associated with mental health, particularly anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

“From my thirty-five years’ experience in the financial services, I know of companies who have enough difficulties helping their own staff with the mental stress, be it professionally or personally acquired.

“A recent survey by Australian Bureau of Statistics showed how during the Melbourne lockdown, almost a third of those participating reported feelings associated with depression and anxiety, compared to 18 per cent for the rest of Australia.

“COVID-19 has made everything more difficult. Lockdowns impede the everyday face to face interactions which can help us when we are down. We know from the many surveys conducted in the past 12 months that most employees would seek to spend some regular time in the office, albeit just 2-3 days a week. This demonstrates the importance of personal interactions. After all, we’re all social animals, and lockdowns can sadly have ancillary affect on our mental wellbeing.

“PROP has recently launched an updated series of educational videos, including real-life cases of how people have dealt with their problems, and materials to help people in their discussions.”

If this article raises any emotional or psychological issues for you, you can utilise the below resources:

Lifeline, 13 11 14,

Suicide Call Back Service, 1300 659 467,

MensLine Australia, 1300 78 99 78,

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