Mental Health Awareness Week is being held between the 15th to 21st of May, with the aim of tackling stigmas related to mental health and creating a more supportive, understanding society.
The main theme this year is ‘anxiety’, one of the most common mental health problems experienced in the UK and greatly impacting the lives of those diagnosed with it. But, whilst strides are being achieved in many areas for mental health inclusion, concern remains regarding their financial wellbeing.
According to Newton Europe’s upcoming report, The Vulnerability Void:
· 1 in 6 (15%) people with mental health conditions have delayed buying financial products they need due to feelings of anxiety and a lack of understanding experienced during the process
· Over a third of people (39%) with anxiety experience stress when tackling difficult financial journeys, compared to just 11% of those without
· One in four of those living with mental health conditions (27%) are left feeling unconfident managing their finances
· Newton calls on the financial services sector to help support those living with mental health conditions by designing better and more inclusive digital customer journeys
According to new research from Newton Europe, customers living with anxiety or depression are over three times more likely to have experienced stress (39%) when tackling difficult financial journeys online – including opening/ switching to a new current/ savings account and applying for mortgages, credit cards and overdrafts – compared to only 11% of people without. This leaves more than one in four (28%) people with anxiety feel unconfident managing their finances, leaving many looking to their family for support.
One in six people with mental health conditions (15%) have delayed buying financial products they needed due to anxiety and a lack of understanding felt during the online customer journey. People with anxiety (14%) or depression (15%) are over three times more likely to entirely avoid buying a financial product for similar reasons; just 4% of people with no mental health conditions said the same.
Please see commentary from Junaid Mujaver below on what the financial services sector can do to tackle this issue.
Junaid Mujaver, partner at consultancy [PC1] Newton, comments: “The current financial landscape is leaving many people with mental health conditions feeling stressed, anxious, and unconfident buying the financial products they need online, and leaving them at financial risk. Digital journeys are now the preferred method for most customers, but too often they are poorly designed to meet the needs of people living with mental health issues.
“With the new FCA Consumer Duty legislation taking effect on the 31st of July 2023 and the FS sector tasked with delivering a fair and inclusive experience for all its customers, especially those identified as vulnerable – which includes customers with mental health conditions – it is imperative the sector acts now.
“Firms can use behavioural psychology to help analyse where online journey designs are not working for people with different support needs. They need to build teams with the right tools and networks of lived experience to help them create solutions that work. These solutions don’t have to be technically complicated; an inclusive design example geared towards people with anxiety might include a ‘save and resume’ feature so that people can save, pause, research, discuss any questions they have, and then return to their journey.”
In recognition of this, Newton has launched NOVA, the Newton Online Vulnerability Assessment, a framework which assesses online journeys. It incorporates leading accessibility best practice and behavioural psychology to help organisations feel confident that their digital journeys are adhering to the industry regulatory requirements for all forms of vulnerability, including anxiety and depression.