LIFESTYLE

The UAE: Health is wealth

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Off the scale workloads and out-of-touch senior management identified as key causes of financial services staff stress and mental ill health, says CISI survey
9 months ago

Only 46 per cent of those working in financial services would feel confident about speaking to their manager about mental ill health, according to the latest CISI survey. The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) is the professional, not-for-profit body for those working in wealth management and capital markets, with a global membership of 45,000.

Respondents were asked how confident they would be talking to their manager at work if they felt they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, with 3,686 respondents reflecting a survey of both CISI’s online community supported by a survey of its members*. Of those, 23 per cent said they were “unsure” and 31 per cent said they were “not confident” talking to their manager.

It is the largest response obtained in the shortest amount of time compared to any other survey ever run by CISI before, showing the strength of feeling on this issue in the finance profession. Many respondents to the CISI survey chose to leave anonymous comments, some indicating the financial services sector they worked in.

We believe some of the comments are disturbing and touch on topics which may resonate across the world of work: lack of trust in human resource departments and managers, work-life balance, challenges faced by women in the workplace and bullying.

Long working hours and the pace of activity during the working day is a theme which is continually reported by respondents. Last year, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched the first comprehensive mental health strategy for Dubai. The strategy titled Happy Lives, Healthy Communities was launched in line with Dubai Health Strategy 2016-2021.

The Mental Health programme stimulates the development of an ecosystem that ensures that the population of Dubai have access to high quality care, including prevention and promotion, for mental health conditions, and addresses the social stigma associated with mental health.

According to the Global Happiness Survey Report released in 2018 at the World Government Summit in Dubai, untreated mental illness reduces the GNP (gross national product) of countries by four per cent.

Many other costs associated with mental illness are indirect or hidden. Indirect costs include loss of productivity attributable to the illness and costs related to morbidity, premature mortality, incarceration, and caregiver time.

A 2017, an Adviserplus survey indicated that a third of absences in the financial services sector were due to mental ill health. Some employers in finance and professional services have been alert to the importance of work and its relationship to mental health for some time.

Some firms were singled out by respondents as being particularly supportive to their staff on the issue of mental ill health, including Hargreaves Lansdown and PwC. Simon Culhane, Chartered FCSI and CISI CEO said, “This is the first time we have sought to find out how those in our profession feel about mental health.

We are overwhelmed and moved by the strength of feeling on this issue amongst our members. The feedback in particular, has shown that workload and working hours are root causes in respondent’s experiences.

These factors are controlled largely by the culture within a firm, which is in itself determined by the leadership. If leaders have an enlightened approach to their own well-being as it relates to work stress, then this is an important example to set staff, to show the importance of self-care as it relates to mental health.”

A recent HSBC poll of more than 22,000 expats revealed that on a third consecutive year the UAE has emerged as fourth best place to work in the world. According to HSBC, 73 per cent of expatriates living in the UAE earn more than in their home country.

 Matthew Cowan, Chartered MCSI and Regional Director Middle East said, “The UAE has consistently maintained its rank as one of the top countries of choice for expatriates. There is a strong governmental drive towards a healthier and happier workforce and increasingly employers are recognising the importance of investing in the health of their employees.

There are firms who are leading the way with their approaches to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. There is also lots of work underway by Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

The profession as a whole can benefit greatly from this combined approach, and we can look forwards towards more understanding of mental health in professional services.” He added, “The findings are indicative that as a sector, the financial services profession needs to work towards a more supportive approach.

We have 45,000 members globally and are exploring ways in which we can encourage an open discussion such as a professional refresher online module on mindfulness. We will be dedicating further online resources to signposting organisations and initiatives supporting this space. We will also see an increase in the number of events focusing on mental health and professional wellbeing.”   

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