Mental health still carries a stigma in financial services according to Rob Prugue, which is why its important to take the lead in reaching out to friends and colleagues.

Yet Prugue understands that many people aren’t confident in handling situations where friends and colleagues are struggling. Many refrain from reaching out simply for fear of making things worse, which is why the Callidum Investment Research consultant and former CEO of Lazard Asset Management founded PROP, an organization that promotes mental health education and awareness.

“One of the few positives to come out of COVID is that there seems to be a heightened awareness of the importance of mental health issues, but more needs to be done,” he says. “Just as we do with fighting the biological impact from COVID-19, we equally all have a vital role to play in helping in the fight for our mental wellbeing.”

According to Lifeline calls to its 24-hour service jumped 25 per cent in the first two weeks of Sydney’s latest lockdowns, Prugue says.

“COVID-19 has made everything more difficult. Lockdowns impede the everyday face to face interactions which can help us when we are down. We know from the many surveys conducted in the past 12 months that most employees would seek to spend some regular time in the office, albeit just 2-3 days a week. This demonstrates the importance of personal interactions.  After all, we’re all social animals, and lockdowns can sadly have ancillary affect on our mental wellbeing.”

Companies may be willing to help, he believes, but not all of them are able.

“From my thirty-five years’ experience in the financial services, I know of companies who have enough difficulties helping their own staff with the mental stress, be it professionally or personally acquired,” he says.

To that end, PROP (People Reaching Out to People) has launched a series of educational videos that includes real-life stories of people dealing with their own problems, as well as other material to help companies and their staff manage mental health issues.

“PROP is proud to be a partner with SuperFriend, Roses in the Ocean and TAL in developing an educational tutorial to unlearn the stigma around mental health,” Prugue says. “For PROP, we see our role to assist in the education and awareness of the problems associated with mental health, particularly anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.”

 

*For Lifeline, call: 13 11 14.

Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning. Contact at [email protected]
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