The real estate world can be very fast-paced. 

Photo - Shabnam Ali-Khan Col

Shabnam Ali-Khan

Many practitioners in this field often work long hours and to demanding deadlines. It can be a competitive and pressurised environment, which can often cause people to suffer in silence when they are struggling with their mental health. Many view it as a weakness to admit to feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. Ultimately, there remains a stigma surrounding mental health. However, the sector is focusing more on addressing these issues, particularly in light of Covid-19. Many firms are putting in place proper measures and training for people to learn more about the issue, to encourage more openness and importantly to help people recognise the signs that someone may be suffering.

Recognising common issues and experiences among colleagues opens the floor for a more effective dialogue. If we have a better understanding and empathy for others, this will help employers create a more supportive environment and lead to tackling mental health issues in a more effective way. It is crucial that we move away from the old-school view that you need to ‘chin up’ and ‘get on with it’. There has to be a proper and real recognition of mental health issues and the importance of wellbeing, so that we are all careful not to dismiss someone as feeling a bit sad or not being resilient. There can also be value in work-specific training, such as time management and how to prioritise work and manage client expectations.

When you go to work everyday people get used to you behaving a certain way, adhering to the rules, becoming reliable. People are willing to trust you and support you in carrying out your job. They appreciate what you do. However, when your mental health is suffering, you can find it hard to function and may need time off, so people may lose some belief in you and are less likely to rely on you. This is a key reason why there needs to be much more awareness, support and understanding within the corporate environment.

What firms can do

  • Provide mental health first-aid training;
  • Provide a forum where people can discuss concerns, worries and ideas, which could be something informal like a coffee catch-up once a month or an online Zoom chat;
  • Make employees aware of counselling services that are available through work;
  • Set up a group where people can meet to share ideas and ways to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Russell-Cooke has a wellbeing group and has been running regular ‘lockdown diaries’ since the start of lockdown. These diaries are a wonderful way to keep in touch with colleagues and see how everyone is doing. It has been a useful platform for sharing ideas on how to cope with isolation;
  • Provide training to managers in particular to help them shape discussions with colleagues about mental health during appraisals

Shabnam Ali-Khan is senior associate in the enfranchisement team at Russell-Cooke