Mental Health in Financial Services


Blog by Elle Kilbride, Communications Executive, IQ-EQ

We need to see a new approach to mental health in the financial services.

In the last year, we’ve seen immense pressures placed not only our health services, businesses and economies, we’ve also seen a significant strain on mental health.

Increased isolation, stress and work pressures are all major contributing factors to poor mental health, all of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Research published by the ONS back in June 2020 found that almost one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the COVID-19 pandemic- almost double the amount before national lockdowns began in March.

Workplaces are now tasked not only with navigating the challenges of COVID-19, but also with making our mental health a priority.  

Workers in the financial services sector are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues. Demanding workloads and high-pressure working environments can take its toll on wellbeing. Studies have shown that 33.9% of absence days in the sector were attributed to mental health, as opposed to 24% in retail and 22% in utilities. And this has been increasing year on year.

The consequences of ignoring these risks can be fatal. A study by the Centre of Disease Prevention Control found that sales representatives for the financial and business services sectors were 39% more likely than other members of the workforce to take their own lives.

Whilst there have been some significant improvements in recent years, there’s still a long way to go to removing those barriers. Although generally the younger generation are renowned for being much more open to discussions on mental health, young people are actually less likely to disclose their mental health problems to employers, using holiday days instead of taking sick days off work.

Promoting open, honest conversation, providing access to support and helping to ease intensive working environments are all essential to cultivating healthy change in the workplace. Communication is key, and it’s essential for management to be initiating those conversations and regularly pulse-checking their team’s wellbeing.

Whilst COVID-19 may have deepened a lot of existing mental health issues, it’s also arguably prompted a lot of conversations around mental health. Flexible working hours, managing childcare and work life balance- all of which are intrinsic to overall quality of mental health- have become hot topics of discussion as we decide the sort of workplace we want to carve out in a post-pandemic world.

The brush-under-the carpet brand of professionalism we’ve seen from previous decades is no longer relevant in the modern workplace, and we need to instead see strong and empathetic leadership and support from the top. Nurturing our EQ side is an intrinsic part of what we do. We need to take care of our people and ensure that our employee’s mental health is a prerogative.

This week our IQ-EQ global team have been working on a number of initiatives to raise awareness and promote good mental health in the workplace. Look out for these on social media all week.