"I hope these important new standards will make a real difference and will eventually be rolled out to many more firms"
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has launched the first ever Mental Health Accessible standards which aim to make services more accessible for people with mental health problems.
Lloyds Bank has signed up to become the first firm to be tested against the new standards.
This will see the charity evaluate how accessible Lloyds Bank’s services are for customers with mental health problems and make recommendations on how they can be made easier to use. After the pilot is completed, Money and Mental Health hopes to extend the Mental Health Accessible standards to firms across financial services.
Research by Money and Mental Health shows that more than half of people with mental health problems face serious difficulties using the phone to carry out essential admin, and four in ten have severe ‘admin anxiety’.
A YouGov poll found that more than one in five (22%) people with a recent mental health problem say that they have had a panic attack as a result of dealing with an essential services provider.
Martin Lewis, founder and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “Dealing with essential services can at times be frustrating and difficult for all of us. Yet for some of the twelve million people in the UK with mental health problems, fear or difficulties navigating through the bureaucracy can lead to them being locked out, unable to use or pay for electricity, water, banking, the internet and more. Many firms already rightly make adjustments for people with physical or sensory conditions, yet until now they haven’t done the same for customers with mental health problems — leaving a significant number of people at financial disadvantage or at its worst a psychological risk.
“We want to encourage services to change, which is why we’re excited to launch our Mental Health Accessible standards, which we hope will make it easier for firms to make it easier for those with mental health problems. We’re grateful to Lloyds Bank for putting its head above the parapet to be the first firm to have its services tested by the standards, hopefully giving it the opportunity to improve. I hope this will be the first of many firms doing it.
“And while this should make a huge difference in ensuring all essential services are more accessible to people struggling with their mental health, it’s very likely to have knock on effects for all customers – simplifying systems, and ensuring people can contact firms in the way that best suits them.”
Fiona Cannon, responsible business, sustainability and inclusion director at Lloyds Banking Group, commented: “Our purpose is to Help Britain Prosper and our ambition is to shift mindsets to recognise that we all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. We believe that with the right support we can help our customers and colleagues with mental health conditions to thrive. We are delighted to be the first company in the UK to have our services tested against these standards. We want to make a real difference to people’s lives and well-being and make our services accessible to all.”
Mims Davies, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, added: "Whether you have a problem with your physical health or your mental health, being able to access the key services which are essential to daily life is so important. I hope these important new standards will make a real difference and will eventually be rolled out to many more firms so the process can be made as stress free as possible."