Lloyds becomes the first bank to sign up to 'Mental Health Accessible' standards
Lloyds Bank has become the first major organisation to sign up to the Mental Health Accessible standards, which have been created to make essential services easier to use for millions of people.
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) – set up by MSE founder and chair Martin Lewis – has today launched the standards which aim to make life easier for those who struggle to make telephone calls, open post or navigate complex online forms due to mental health problems.
Organisations signing up to the standards will have to be tested against 11 key measures, including training staff so they are more aware of mental health problems and their impacts, and ensuring that customers can carry out important account activities through a variety of different methods, such as text, email, web chat and face-to-face access.
After the pilot is completed, MMHPI hopes to extend the Mental Health Accessible standards to firms across the financial services, telecoms, energy and water sectors.
For more help, see our free Mental Health & Debt guide.
Martin: 'We want to encourage services to change'
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com and MMHPI, said: "Dealing with essential services can at times be frustrating and difficult for all of us. Yet for some of the 12 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."
Watch more of Martin's thoughts on the new project below:
One in five have had a panic attack after dealing with a provider
MMHPI developed the new Mental Health Accessible standards to help firms which provide essential services both understand and address the challenges that people with mental health problems face.
Its research, based on a YouGov online poll of 2,052 adults, found:
- People who have had a mental health problem in the last two years are more than three times as likely to have cried while dealing with an essential services provider than those who have not had one.
- They are also more than three times as likely to have lost sleep over a problem with essential services.
- 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.
What are the standards that Lloyds will have to meet?
MMHPI will test the standards during a pilot with Lloyds Bank, and make recommendations on how its services can be made easier to use. Lloyds will have to:
Equip staff with the training and tools to support customers with mental health problems by:
1. Demonstrating a commitment to meeting the access and inclusion needs of customers with mental health problems.
2. Training staff so they are more aware of mental health problems and their impacts, and are better able to support customers.
3. Giving staff the systems and processes they need to get the right outcome for customers (eg, knowledge of how to signpost customers on to support such as the Samaritans, budgeting tools, spending blocks).
4. Ensuring staff can give customers the tools they need to get the right outcome.
Keep communications open by:
5. Ensuring that customers can carry out important account activities through a variety of channels (ie, text, email, webchat, face-to-face access, as well as phone).
6. Recording customers' communication preferences and trying to stick to them.
7. Having a website which is easy to understand and navigate, and which can be used by customers to access help.
8. Working hard to ensure that customers receive communications, especially the important ones.
9. Recognising customer fears about contacting banks, and making it a positive experience where possible.
Help customers to understand and engage (especially when they are unwell) by:
10. Helping customers to remember conversations and remind them of things they need to do (eg, by sending transcripts of interactions).
11. Communicating with customers in a way that's easy to understand and that highlights important information so they know what to do next.
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