Canadian Underwriter

Mental health check

October 6, 2020   by David Gambrill, Editor in Chief

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Counselling clients through an extended public health and economic crisis can no doubt make insurance professionals feel more like front lines mental health workers these days. But always remember that self-care during these times is paramount.

While there are no known statistics for employee absentee rates within the P&C industry (or official counts of those who are on stress leave), stories abound of insurance professionals who are feeling the effects of looking after their clients instead of themselves.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) surveyed 3,000 Canadians in May. “Being confined to close quarters at home under physical distancing measures, with concerns about money (45%), job loss (31%) and having enough food to feed their families (21%), parents report having more conflicts with their children (23%), yelling/shouting more (17%), disciplining their children more (17%), and using harsh words more often (11%),” the CMHA reported. Those in the CMHA study could be your customers, your clients — or even you.

COVID-19 caseloads in Canada are on the rise again and it is clear that your clients are not out of the woods yet. In a survey of more than 3,700 Canadian small businesses conducted in late August by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the association asked its members: “Where do you think your business will be in six months?”

About 15% of Canadian small businesses (more than 440 businesses in the CFIB survey) predicted they will either be fully shut down (3%) or operating at significantly reduced capacity (12%). So, expect to be managing your clients’ anxieties and financial suffering until at least the end of 2020.

Dealing with Canadians’ anxieties during a long-tail catastrophe event such as a pandemic is exhausting. It takes a lot out of you. It means longer work hours and hyper-sensitivity to things that go wrong. It could mean burnout if your long-term stress isn’t sufficiently managed.

And so remember in all of this to be kind to yourselves. Eat healthy foods, drink water, stay connected with family and friends, take time out from your (home) offices periodically to recharge, and seek counselling if need be. The best thing you can do for your clients is to stay healthy during these troubled times.

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