Fears over staff’s mental health

CONCERNS have been raised about the mental health of people who work in banks due to the great pressure they are under, the head of the Mental Health Commission has said.

Hugh Kane said it was imperative that “Ireland.inc” ensures the mental health needs of its people are looked after.

There was anecdotal evidence, he said, that bank officials were under enormous stress. He said the Mental Health Commission hoped to formally address the issue in the new year.

“There are so many people under pressure. There are lots of people who have lost jobs and people in jobs who are under pressure too,” he said.

Mr Kane said he had heard of a bank official who was trying to advise someone who was in serious trouble financially, and the next he had heard the man had taken his own life.

“People working in banks are dealing with people who are under serious pressure themselves, and to have to deal with that every day on a human level is very difficult.”

A well-placed source within the banking sector said staff were “being hammered” at the counters. “Frontline staff who have had no hand, act or part in the crisis are taking the brunt of the abuse. It is directed at them — comments, anger, they are feeling it all the time. It’s been two years now and there is no end in sight.”

A spokesperson for Bank of Ireland played down the issue. “It is largely anecdotal evidence. To a large extent, our customers have a good relationship with staff.” Asked directly if staff were under pressure, the spokesperson said it was “very difficult” to give an absolute comment due to its large branch network.

Bank of Ireland and AIB have counselling services in place for employees. An AIB spokesperson said there is a low but steady flow of people accessing the service.

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