#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek: Financial planning is supporting good mental health

This article is featured as part of our week-long series looking at awareness and practical advice to support the Mental Health of those working across the financial services sector.

By Mark Hussein, CEO HSBC Life (UK) Ltd & Head of Insurance UK

Many of us would agree that The Mental Health Foundation, which promotes Mental Health Awareness Week, has made great strides to achieve its mission to “help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health”.

After 22 years of Mental Health Awareness Week, the stigma around admitting to poor mental health and the effects of stress has fundamentally changed. I believe many people are now more comfortable discussing depression and anxiety. Progressive employers accept that mental health is a major contributor to overall well-being and recognise the importance of having the right strategies in place to address its challenges.

The protection industry is playing its part. Mental health support is one of a growing number of value-added services included in many protection policies. Our own Life and Critical Illness policies, in common with other providers, offer a range of additional health services. Our Critical Illness Plus cover includes access to video assessments with counsellors and psychologists; and customers can receive up to eight psychotherapy sessions a year to help with topics such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

The bigger picture

Value-added services are an important feature of protection products, but it’s the role of advisers themselves – in supporting financial fitness and overall client well-being – that should be recognised and celebrated. HSBC Life’s +Factor Study[1] shows the importance of financial advice and the vital role advisers play; we surveyed over 3,000 UK adults to understand the relationship between physical health, mental well-being, and financial fitness.

The study found that financial planning is good for mental health – nearly three-quarters of those who review their financial plans at least once a year reported to have ‘average’ or ‘above average mental health’. However, half of those who do not review their financial plan said they have ‘below average’ mental health.

Around 74% of those who take financial advice reported ‘average’ or ‘above average’ mental health. More than two out of five (42%) who do not take financial advice have ‘below average’ mental health.

Good mental health is also good for finances. Nearly half (47%) of those with ‘above average’ mental health scored highly for financial fitness; but among those with ‘poor’ mental health just 12% were rated as financially fit.

Financial advisers play a vitally important role in helping clients plan their financial futures. Mental Health Awareness Week is a good time to reflect on everything that advisers have achieved in support of their clients’ mental, physical and financial well-being.

[1] https://www.life.hsbc.co.uk/customers/health-and-wellbeing-centre/health-and-wellbeing-study/

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