Last week it was announced that Tom Blomfield was leaving his role as CEO of Monzo after revealing his struggles with mental health during the pandemic.
Monzo was Blomfield’s second big startup after launching Go Cardless in 2011, and with repeated lockdowns in place, the high-profile CEO admitted that this had only “exacerbated” the problem.
It can be said that the fintech startup world and its entrepreneurs are often very dedicated to their causes, working long hours and putting their all into the business, but this can put a strain on people’s mental wellbeing. Does more attention need to be brought by startups and boards in the industry to ensure that people are mind-healthy?
Sara Hartland, Business and Implementation Manager at Inbotiqa, believes so. She said, “Since the pandemic began, we have increased online social interactions and consciously set up ‘digital socials’ in the form of team quizzes and other group participation events, as well as encouraging individual social catch-ups. We also shared resources such as online meditation guides and mindfulness courses, and Management reinforced that the door is always open for people to discuss professional or personal matters if needed.”
While more established fintechs may already have a duty of care in place with employees, for those yet to embrace mental health care at work Richard Latham, CEO of Wellmind Health who works with fintechs, offers these tips.
How big is the mental health crisis within the fintech community?
As a provider of digital mental health therapeutics, we’ve seen an increase in demand for support with mental health issues that has been brought on by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs and staff are under numerous additional burdens resulting from these uncertain times and the restrictions on our work, travel and social lives. The situation can be particularly acute for those working in the worlds of finance and start-ups, which have long hours and high levels of stress anyway.
What can fintech leaders do to support their staff during a mental crisis?
Ongoing mass remote working makes it more challenging for managers to support team members’ mental wellbeing. The need to reduce face-to-face contact has meant traditional support and treatments for those with mental health issues have been unavailable or less accessible at this time of increased demand.
It’s important to nurture open lines of communication so staff feel free to reach out if they are struggling. Physical activity and being amongst nature and green spaces can provide big improvements to our physical and mental health, so encouraging this and being flexible with times throughout the day are simple but effective steps. Just ten minutes of brisk walking can improve mental alertness, energy and boost our mood. Initiating virtual-group times for such activities can also provide a much-needed social element in these isolated times.
Likewise, the benefits of meditation are wide-ranging, including reduced stress, anxiety and fatigue, better emotional wellbeing, increased attention span and improved sleep. Promoting or scheduling regular meditation times for staff is another simple way to provide support, and digital meditation aids can be a great help, especially for beginners.
Where can the fintech community go to get mental health support – especially during the pandemic?
Interest in and use of mental health apps has soared during the pandemic. There are many benefits associated with mental health apps, such as being medication-free and available 24/7 to be completed at your own pace. Suggesting or providing high-quality ones to team members is an effective way of helping people to take control and improve or maintain their own mental wellbeing.
With an estimated 10,000-plus mental health-related apps available on the worldwide market there’s a wide choice on offer, but there are variations in the levels of quality and effectiveness so it’s important to find what works best for your and your team’s needs. For people living or working in London, the Good Thinking website offers free access to clinically proven digital mental health interventions to those experiencing anxiety, low-mood, stress and sleeping difficulties. Our Be Mindful web-based course is available alongside other supported online mental health programmes such as My Cognition Pro and My Possible Self.