The broking association has launched a new virtual program to assist brokers in handling their own stress, as well as provide information on how to manage distressed customers.
The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) has announced the launch of a “tailored” mental health program to support and guide brokers looking for support, as the industry responds to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s recent bushfire crisis.
According to the MFAA, the program will be important for brokers, who represent the “largest frontline force” in the mortgage and SME finance industry, making them more likely to come into contact with customers, as well as colleagues, family and friends who may struggle with mental illness, suicide, domestic violence, financial distress, serious illness, loss or other crises.
The program, named Accidental Counsellor - Engaging and supporting those in crisis, has been created in collaboration with Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury, a Sydney-based non-profit organisation that provides 24-hour phone crisis support and will be made available to both members and non-members of the MFAA.
The Accidental Counsellor program will reportedly consist of a series of live digital events, which will aim to educate and assist brokers on industry responses to COVID-19, as well as to help them recognise when their customers, colleagues or other acquaintances are struggling or in crisis, to respond in an appropriate way, and to help them take the next steps so they can get the support they need.
The events will run throughout April via Zoom video conferencing and be delivered by a qualified and experienced Lifeline trainer and crisis supporter from Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury.
MFAA members will be eligible for 2.5 CPD hours for their attendance.
MFAA chief executive Mike Felton noted that current economic conditions can cause heightened levels of stress and anxiety in both brokers themselves, and their customers, colleagues and loved ones.
“In this current period of COVID-19 uncertainty and emotional and financial upheaval, our entire broking community is engaging directly with distressed customers, colleagues, friends and family, as well as experiencing a high level of stress themselves.
“What’s more, many brokers may be uncertain as to how to respond in the most appropriate, compassionate and empathetic way,” Mr Felton said.
He stated that the role that brokers play in the lives of customers can sometimes mean they may feel the need to provide emotional support and personal advice.
“Now, more than ever, it is critical to have the skills to respond to someone who is struggling to cope, especially when you aren’t (and are not expected to be) a trained counsellor,” Mr Felton said.
“Mental health continues to be a priority issue for the MFAA, and brokers can play a big role in supporting the community and each other with these issues,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, aggregator Specialist Finance Group has also announced its own virtual broker assistance program for its members, in partnership with PSYCHmatters Plus Assessment clinics.
The webinars will assist brokers to manage their stress, anxiety or mental health issues, provide tips on self-care techniques, as well as provide information on supporting clients in distress.