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Mortgages and mental health – time to act

A quarter of us will experience a mental health issue at some time in our lives.

As I have written before (, I am one of them. I say so not with pride or regret but with honesty and openness because it is these tenets which will help to ease the considerable pain for the many of us who are sufferers.

The more we talk about mental health, the more we will come to understand it and the less pain it will cause.
As a periodic sufferer of depression and anxiety, one thing I can tell you is that the ordinary world can quickly become an alarming and disorientating place.

I hear a silence of nods of acknowledgement from one out of every four of you reading this.
Frustration can quickly transform into anxiety, imploding self-confidence, bewilderment and frequently anger.

Dealing with financial services of all kinds can be infuriating at the best of times but if the customer’s head is not in good shape, even the simplest transaction can result in blind panic and, ultimately, inaction.

So hats off then to mortgage broker Trussle who released an interesting piece of research in Mental Health Awareness Week this month.

Two in five homeowners suffer from stress when dealing with the mortgage process, it says – that’s 625,000 every year. The firm surveyed 2000 mortgage borrowers who said paperwork and jargon were chiefly to blame.

The firm said it conducted an experiment with a big six lender and a small conveyancing firm which showed that a typical mortgage customer was required to deal with 219 pieces of paper. That’s enough to drive anyone nuts.
Trussle called upon the industry to work to alleviate the stress of a process which should be, in this day and age, common-or-garden.

We wholeheartedly agree.

One thing we are proud to say as the Family Building Society is that our staff have undergone a series of in-depth training courses, including some from The Samaritans, in how to deal with vulnerable customers.

From this training, our staff apply the so-called “Golden Rule”. This states: “You are a person dealing with another person, not a person dealing with a problem.  It is important that we spend time to listen to our customers and we adapt our response to their circumstances where we can.”

We also have a dedicated team in place to assist vulnerable customers with their savings and mortgage accounts. Members of this team have been trained in structuring and managing in-depth conversations so that we ask the right questions and provide the right information to help the customer.

We’ll continue to do this, not only because it is quite simply the right thing to do but also because it is good for business. The Family business.

Steve McDowell is a journalist and blog-writer for the Family Building Society. He is also a trustee and director of a mental health charity called Talking2minds.


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Surrey KT17 4NL
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