Mental Health Awareness Week: The advisers doing their bit

Jenna Towler
clock • 4 min read

From no-contact boxing to providing support for employees coming back to work, Sophie King looks at what financial advisers are doing to support mental health awareness

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, a campaign encouraging people to be more aware of their own mental health, as well as what they can do to support others.

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our mental health could be colossal and so it is important to make sure we are taking care of our mental health.

With this year's Mental Health Awareness Week theme being nature, people are encouraged to look after their mental health by surrounding themselves with all things green. Whether that be going for a walk in the woods or taking care of plants, the campaign wants people to get outdoors.

With financial advisers also doing their bit to help, Retirement Planner looks what some of the members of our profession are doing. 

Supporting companies in debt

Victor Sacks Associates founder and IFA Victor Sacks is in the process of launching a joint project between himself, a mortgage broker and a debt counsellor to support his clients who run their own businesses.

Sacks, who mostly advises business owners, has found that staff productivity can suffer greatly if finances are out of control. "They [business owners] believe it is their fault and no one else is to blame, hence they talk to no one for fear of embarrassment."

With the project, Sacks intends to offer a service that can be sent out to business owners, providing them with someone to talk to, but also help them with getting out of any debt that they may have found themselves in.

Boxing therapy in Bristol

Anderson Financial Management, based in Bristol, has partnered with local charity Empire Fighting Chance. Empire supports the mental health and wellbeing of young people through non-contact boxing and personal support. 

Boxing therapy is a therapeutic model, specifically designed by Empire Fighting Chance to breakdown the barriers young people can often face when accessing more traditional therapy. It is based on principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and the team work in a solution-focused manner, with the primary goal of supporting some of the hardest-to-reach young people.

To help, Anderson is providing financial support for a part-time mental health therapist working with young people. It is also working on a project focused on financial education, which it said has a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Pushing for change

Financial adviser Georgina Richmond recently suggested to her employer that it allow staff to take a day off sick if they feel they need a mental health day.

"I think it's so important you know that our employer understands if you're having a bad day and just can't come into work, and that you don't have to make up a headache or physical illness to take the day off," she told PA.

Meanwhile, financial adviser Mary Hemingway has made a pledge to be more open in her professional space about her own struggles with mental illness.

She said: "Having to be a resilient, professional, ‘go to' person means I've never really opened up before for fear of being judged or losing my clients.

"But, actually, my mental health issues make me super human and I'm really bloody proud of myself."

Counselling sessions and support

Financial service provider Altus has been supporting its staff in several ways by trying to encourage them to stay mentally and physically healthy. Over the past year, it has been in partnership with Bath Mind to support employees with any mental health issues they may have faced or are facing.

An Altus spokesperson said: "Their support has been invaluable, providing training courses for the team and line managers on mental health and nutrition.

"We are also financing private counselling sessions through the charity, and if any of our team need them, they can self-refer for this confidential service."

In addition, Altus has provided in-office flu jabs, as well as fruit baskets. It is also supporting staff coming back to the office by allowing them to come in when they can, so they can balance schooling alongside their working day.

The spokesperson continued: "We have also organised group activities so that our colleagues can socialise outside of their household, such as monthly virtual social events and online classes.

"We are also encouraging break-time away from our screens: we have introduced walking meetings, and challenged the team to go outside and send pictures of the scenery that surrounds them."

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