Paul Feeney tells conference that financial services is an industry which ‘almost requires burnout’
Quilter's CEO once worried his battle with mental ill-health would be seen as a sign of weakness, and something that could put his job at risk, he told delegates at This Can Happen today.
Paul Feeney, who sought help in the past, said the best thing he did was open up about his mental health. He said: "To begin with I didn't speak with anybody; I thought it would be a sign of weakness and that I would lose my job."
Feeney said he was forced to share his circumstances after seeking help and taking time off work. "I then had to talk to my boss; he was supportive, but he and the company did not know how to deal with it at the time."
To begin with I didn't speak with anybody, I thought it would be a sign of weakness and that I would lose my job.
Financial services, he explained, still has a huge problem with mental health stigma - it's seen as "taboo" - and he said HR departments are "not well equipped."
Feeney said that the industry is rife with people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), high functioning anxiety and depression, among other conditions, while adding financial services "almost requires burnout". Those struggling often turn to coping mechanisms, such as drugs and alcohol, he said.
He added that the solution lies in "making it personal". "In our industry, we have a saying ‘don't take it personal' - we should make it personal. People need to know it is ok to not be ok. The best thing to do is open up and talk about it, otherwise you feel isolated," he said.
Feeney said he believes the only way to get the message out and change business culture is for leaders to speak out. He added that we need to create open cultures, talk about these issues at board level and provide support to employees.
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