MINIMUM STANDARDS ON MENTAL HEALTH CARE
IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY
Mental Health is a subject at the top of everyone’s agenda right now. The subject of Mental Health in the workplace has encouraged global discussion leading to a variety of responses. We want to help by bringing solutions to businesses that may be confused about how to react to the growing demand for Mental Health services within the Insurance Industry. We have created a clear set of Minimum Standards Standards on Mental Health Care that you can use as a foundation for your own initiatives.
Dealing with Mental Health issues is, in a lot of ways, much harder than dealing with many physical health issues because they are not as visible as physical health. In reality, a tiny proportion of the population have the perfect body and, even when they do, there will be blemishes and scars reflecting life’s interactions with that body over the years. The same is true of human minds we suspect. There are unlikely to be too many perfect minds out there and all minds will have some form of scar or blemish reflecting the past.
Our starting point in the creation of our minimum standards is to look at what our industry does and to try and reflect our purpose into those standards. The insurance industry is all about protecting the things we value in life. It is about passing the risk from the insured to the insurer. It is about feeling safe rather than vulnerable. It is also about acting commercially based on the risk of doing nothing. If we can treat our employees in the same way that we care for our clients, we are not likely to go far wrong.
Our minimum standards logically must address two situations:
Mental health issues that currently exist within the insurance industry
Mental health issues that are likely to present themselves within the insurance industry but could be avoided
We have set out below what we believe are the logical minimum standards to address current and future mental health issues in the workplace.
We hope that you will look at these minimum standards, add them to the work that you have already been doing and support us in creating a better world of Mental Health in the insurance sector.
Know where you are by carrying out a Mental Health survey with at least a 1 in 3 response rate.
Before we offer any form of insurance, we assess the risk that exists and so we need to assess how mentally healthy our workplaces are. All companies should carry out an assessment of the overall Mental Health of their organisation, looking at the issues from a preventative standpoint so that we can avoid possible future crises.
Understand why it makes sense to address Mental Health in the workplace by looking at the statistical costs to your business of doing nothing.
Once we have assessed the risk of a specific insured event, we need to look at the commercial argument for acting or not acting. The same is true of Mental Health and all companies should understand the level of cost and risk of doing nothing so that their willingness to invest in a solution is based on an informed view.
Create a clear and simple strategy to deal with Mental Health issues and review it annually.
All forms of insurance work to a plan and the same is true of caring for and preventing Mental Health issues. There should be a company strategy for existing Mental Health problems and a separate plan for preventing further problems. This should be added to your Health & Safety Policy.
Creat an open culture where employees are encouraged to discuss Mental Health issues and to understand those of their colleagues via team training and awareness policy.
The best insurance deal, now and for the future, is an open business deal where both parties show their hand up front with complete transparency and honestly. We encourage our members to take the same approach with addressing Mental Health issues. If we want our employees to open up to us, we have to open up to them.
Adapt the workplace to be physically and emotionally safe for those with mental health issues – have at least one safe and private area.
Our industry strives to mitigate risk, remove vulnerability and promote a feeling of safety. We should do the same in the workplace so that employees feel safe to discuss their Mental Health challenges should they wish to, without fear of discrimination, repercussion or embarrassment.
Support colleagues who have mental health issues with clear signage (virtual and physical) guiding staff to the company’s mental health support resources.
Our world knows that things go wrong but we also know that early intervention produces dramatically different results compared to letting them reach crisis point. We would like to see dark crisis rooms in the basement converted to early stage pathways that are open and appealing to those with Mental Health issues.
Protect employees from causes of mental health issues by carrying out regular audits that expose recurring problems that can then be prevented.
This is what insurance is about. We need to look at the most valuable assets in any business, our people, and protect them from the issues that currently exist and those that could exist if we do not take action to prevent them.
Address mental health issues immediately rather than at a crisis point by offering resources to support a range of issues such as Mental Health First Aiders and Employee Assistance Programmes.
Insuring a client is not normally about a one-off event; it is usually about a long-term relationship. We support our clients in that relationship, and we should do the same for our employees. We encourage all employers to create a structure of support with well-trained ambassadors of good Mental Health, providing uplifting momentum for change throughout the organisation.
LEADERSHIP AND EDUCATION
Work to eradicate the stigma around Mental Health from the workplace via effective education and training that really creates an impact for good.
Sometimes insurance can create cynicism and it has to be looked at in a fresh way. Mental health is the same. A personal trainer for the mind needs to become as positive an act as a personal trainer for physical health.
Create collaborative plans between employer and employee to promote recovery and resilience.
When things go wrong in our insurance world we must recover. This involves work from us corporately as well as individually. The same is true with Mental Health. It is the responsibility of the company and the employee to work together towards a recovery and to create greater resilience for next time. Consider working with an employee led group that helps design strategy on recovery and resilience and give them ownership of the delivery of this.
Make sure you have clear and regular communication on all aspects of your mental health plan.
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, sources of happiness amongst employees is clear and regular communication from the top. Engage your staff by communicating all aspects of your Mental Health strategy in a clear manner on a regular basis. Set out your calendar of communication in advance and make it happen.