Mental health training programs launched for insolvency professionals

The government bodies which administer Australia’s insolvency systems have teamed up with the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association (ARITA) to develop and support new mental health training programs for practitioners who assist Australians impacted by personal bankruptcy or the insolvency of a company.

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA), which regulates Australia’s personal insolvency system, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which regulates Australia’s corporate insolvency system, have worked with ARITA to create a program to educate insolvency professionals on the connection between insolvency and mental health and how they can better engage with people experiencing financial distress.

The Insolvency Mental Health Awareness Program, to be rolled out over the next 12 months, has a dual focus: understanding the mental health of people accessing bankruptcy and insolvency services and addressing possible mental health implications for professionals providing these services.

Hamish McCormick, Chief Executive of AFSA, said while the training is intended to augment the skills of those professionals administering bankruptcy, it does not seek to make them experts in the area of mental health—rather, to provide greater confidence and tools to identify and support people in vulnerable situations.

“We deal with ordinary, everyday Australians often at the most difficult point in their lives. There is a strong link between debt and mental illness and we hope that by providing access to specialist mental health training and resources, we can build the capability of insolvency practitioners in all aspects of their important work,” Mr McCormick said.

John Winter, Chief Executive Officer, ARITA, says it is crucial for those on the front lines to have the skills to support those dealing with financial distress.

“Until now, we’ve had little in the way of a toolkit to help manage mental health issues. The new courses not only support those going through a challenging time but also ensure mental health issues are positively managed, with better outcomes for all,” Mr Winter said.

The training programs, developed in conjunction with Mental Health First Aid Australia, will range from a 90 minute overview session, which is intended for all insolvency professionals, to more detailed online and face-to-face courses for those who would benefit from more intensive training and knowledge.
Completion of the training will count towards the continuing professional development required by ARITA, AFSA and ASIC.

“Mental health first aid training is critical to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and to provide insolvency practitioners, and their staff, with essential skills to recognise the early signs and risks of mental health problems. We are proud to be involved in the creation and delivery of this training suite,” ASIC Commissioner John Price said.

It is envisioned that an estimated 1,000 Australians will access some level of training under this package. For further information on these training courses, visit the Mental Health First Aid Australia website.