With World Mental Health Day taking place earlier this week, commentators cited a need for the industry to overcome an ‘alpha male’ attitude and drive the debate on mental health to eliminate any stigma that still exists.
Brightstar’s director of people development, Clare Jupp, said by speaking out on her own experience with a mental health condition she hoped others would feel more comfortable to share their experience.
“I’ve suffered from anxiety in the past which can be quite difficult to share. We have a culture of openness at Brightstar and employees are encouraged to share these things in coaching sessions if needed, and we as directors are very open about our experiences.
“In a male dominated industry mental health problems could be deemed a weakness but having an open culture can make all the difference,” Jupp added.
Matt Lowndes, director at Coreco, agreed: “The recent statistics from the ONS on rates of suicide among men in their thirties and forties are absolutely appalling; men have a tendency to keep their mouths shut and get on with it which is probably not a good thing.
“Mental health conditions in the industry obviously exist as a problem. Our industry is a bit similar to professional sport in that sense, where everyone wants to be the alpha male.”
He added: “But the million-dollar question is how do you spot people with a problem? Mental illness can manifest itself in lots of different ways so it’s important to be intuitive and communicate with employees as much as possible.”
David Hollingworth, associate director at London and Country, explained that a set procedure for employees returning to work from a period of absence could help in such scenarios.
“If an employee is absent for an extended amount of time then a return to work procedure can help to identify any deeper issues rather than something more minor,” he said.
“The mortgage industry like any other industry should be part of important national debates and things like World Mental Health Day are there precisely for that reason; to start conversations.”