How Learning & Development Can Improve Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Week is running from the 15th to the 21st of May. This year’s theme, announced by the Mental Health Foundation, focusses on raising awareness of anxiety.

Anxiety is an emotion that can affect us all, both physically and mentally. We typically experience anxiety during important life events, whether that is starting a new job, moving home, or getting married. With the rising cost of living however, more and more people are struggling with anxiety over their finances, having to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table. Research from the Mental Health Foundation found that more than a third (34%) of adults in the UK have admitted to feeling anxious about their finances.

Recognising Signs of Anxiety

Everyone can experience anxiety at some point in their lifetime. It might make you feel tense, nervous, tearful, or can create problems with concentration, sleeping, or generally finding it difficult to relax. Anxiety can make someone appear fine on the outside, but on the inside, they might feel trapped in a spiralling state of panic. It can make even the most simple and mundane tasks that you were confident in carrying out on a daily basis turn into the most daunting experiences.

If you or someone you know is feeling anxious, you might notice or experience symptoms such as:

  • an increased heart rate
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • breathlessness, or
  • chest pain

Anxiety in the financial services sector

Anxiety is not just limited to events in our personal life, it can also have an effect on our working lives. A survey by Ecclesiastical found that 70% of brokers experienced stress at work and 44% experienced anxiety. Heavy workloads, staff shortages, and customer demands were all major contributing factors to brokers’ stress, as well as maintaining compliance and staying up to date with the latest regulatory changes.

Whilst attitudes to mental health in the workplace have been improving since the Covid-19 pandemic, stress and anxiety remains a constant, which is why raising awareness and understanding is critical, not just for this week only, but going beyond. 

Supporting Mental Health through Training

Learning and development is a valuable asset to any broker, but it is very rarely considered how mental health can affect how this is managed. Learning and development in mental health can help insurance brokers reduce stress by providing the necessary skills, knowledge, and tools to manage time more effectively and receive greater job satisfaction.

Offering comprehensive training can take the pressure off of brokers by providing better access to workshops, and online courses relating to current compliance requirements, improving knowledge retention. Additionally, management can encourage the benefits of continuous learning, integrating it into a part of the workplace culture by helping brokers prioritise learning and development, which can provide a necessary confidence boost and reduce stress.

A widespread problem in the workplace is that we do not talk enough about mental health and anxiety. As a result, many people are often unaware until an issue is past the breaking point. Encouraging interactions that go beyond pleasantries as well as open discussions about anxiety and mental health among brokers can also create a better understanding on how to recognise signs of stress in each other and get help before problems can escalate. Having workshops on mental health and developing support from colleagues who can identify when someone is struggling can foster a sense of community and shared responsibility.

If you are already a Development Zone user, you can find a range of courses to help with mental health and well-being in the office, including:

  • Anxiety in the workplace: managing anxiety.
  • Mental health and well-being at work.
  • Workplace wellbeing managers guide.

If you are new to the Aviva Development Zone, we offer a 14-day free trial where you can try every feature and every course! Click here to find out more:

About the author

Luke joined RWA from July 2022 - July 2023. He has 10 years of graphic design experience creating marketing material and 7 years of direct marketing experience, most recently working as a freelance social media marketing manager. Luke’s role at RWA involved overseeing RWA's social media channels and assisting with the creation of e-learning and blog content.

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