Pam Quinn tells us why BIBA is committed to fully supporting every staff member who may be facing mental health challenges.
Q. Please can you tell us about BIBA’s work with mental health? Where did the inspiration come from and what are you doing to help your staff?
A. At BIBA we have always recognised that our people are our most important asset and as a firm are always supportive of individual needs. We were shocked but not wholly surprised to see reports in recent years about the impact of stress in financial services. This led to us looking in more depth at the way this might impact our members and their employees as well as our own staff. As a result we held an ‘Introduction to Mental Wellbeing’ interactive knowledge building session for all employees with Wellbeing Mental Health Ltd and subsequently rolled this out as a webinar session for our members which was fully subscribed.
Q. Do you feel that UK businesses as a whole are committed to tackling mental health at work, or are we falling short?
A. Certainly high profile campaigns such as the ‘Heads Together’ campaign by Princes William and Harry brought this topic right to the top of the agenda. More and more we see and hear about public figures dealing with mental health issues. In the corporate world too, the concept of mental wellbeing is now being incorporated into workplace wellbeing policies. Our 2018 Manifesto highlighted the extent and cost of absence caused by mental health issues and drew on the Heads Together research that revealed 83% of people who had had a conversation about their own mental health ‘found it helpful’. BIBA is determined to continue this frankness, promote the importance of mental health and to ‘change the conversation’ in the work place.
Q. Can you tell us about your partnership with This Can Happen? What appealed to you about our work?
A. At the BIBA Conference & Exhibition in 2018 we were privileged to present a session by Jonny (Benjamin) and Neil (Laybourn) to a sell-out audience. What a powerful session it was, and judging by the reaction of business hardened insurance professionals there is a great willingness to take mental wellbeing on board. That is why when This Can Happen approached us to work with them on their event we jumped at the chance to promote what you are doing with our membership and to give them the opportunity to attend.
Q. In your opinion, is the future looking bright for mental health in the workplace or do we still have a long way to go?
A. In our view there has been a step-change in the last 18 months with people in all walks of life being more open about their mental health. The taboo is still being broken down. In some sectors more than others it is less likely to be a topic that colleagues, friends and family avoid. Yet yes there is more everyone can do and we need to shout the conversation more and more.