A mental health program trialled with brokers this week has been positively received and is expected to be rolled out nationally over the coming year.
The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) has announced that following a trial of mental health program, Accidental Counsellor, run in partnership with Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury, it will be rolling out the programme nationally over the next year.
The Accidental Counsellor pilot program, which was delivered to brokers and industry representatives by a Lifeline trainer and crisis supporter over two workshops in Sydney and Melbourne this week, provided training and insights on recognising when someone might be struggling or in a crisis, responding in an appropriate and compassionate manner, and helping them figure out the next steps in seeking support.
MFAA chief executive Mike Felton said that the intention of the trial was to ensure that mortgage brokers — or as the association put it, “the largest frontline force in the mortgage industry” — are equipped to handle mental health issues or other crises experienced by clients or other people they face in their personal and professional lives.
“Brokers, in particular, are in a position nearly every day where they are interacting with the public, reviewing personal and financial information, and building relationships of trust,” Mr Felton said.
“During these meetings, a broker might recognise that someone needs help and, with the right training, they might be able to guide that person to seek assistance that can improve their mental health and wellbeing, potentially making a big difference to those that may be vulnerable within our community.”
The MFAA said that the pilot program received strong feedback, and it has therefore committed to delivering the program nationally over the next 12 months.
“The feedback I received from attendees tells me that the value of the program is without question, so the MFAA team, in conjunction with Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury, will be developing a national roll-out of this program as part of the MFAA COMMUNITY initiatives,” Mr Felton said.
“Mental health is a priority issue for the MFAA, and brokers can play a big role in supporting the community with these issues.”
Several other players in the mortgage broking industry have been working to improve mental health in the profession, with Tracy Kearey, the director of Brisbane-based Home Loan Connexion, launching a mental health program to “give back” to the industry and support her brokers.
The Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) also hosted an event to mark R U OK? Day, a national day of action dedicated to opening up communication and supporting those struggling with life. The FBAA said at the time that it wants the industry to “have a discussion about mental health, with a majority of brokers saying they feel highly stressed”.
“We are very aware that brokers put a lot of pressure on themselves to chase work and complete deals. We acknowledge that health, and in particular mental health, is an increasing concern in the community and a key issue for the financial services sector,” the association said.
“We aim to address this with targeted initiatives to better equip brokers in responding to the circumstances they face.”
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, or you’re worried about someone else and feel that urgent professional support is needed, contact your local doctor or one of the 24/7 crisis agencies below.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636