"Please accept our apologies for the delay..."

The above is the standard greeting that a customer will receive when contacting a business to rectify an error or to modify a policy. This may be travel, car, business, or liability insurance. My experience working in call centres for many years has given me the opportunity to encounter angry, upset, and irate customers, some of whom were justified, others not so much.


Even though call centre agents typically manage 50 calls per shift, there is the potential for 50 negative, abusive experiences. Employers often offer employee assistance programmes (EAPs), which include packages of support, assistance, and employee well-being plans, which can be effective in some cases. No matter whether it is check-ins, coaching, or private one-to-one discussions, these systems of mental well-being work precisely as intended.

It has been reported that employees have experienced the benefits of receiving free mental health support when needed, such as following a verbally abusive caller, a highly frustrated individual who needs to speak with the person answering the call, and customers who make personal remarks to the person answering the call.

Despite this, not all organisations place a high priority on employee well-being. Instead, they state that calls need to be answered, targets need to be achieved, and stakeholders need to be satisfied. It is imperative to note that all these factors can and do negatively affect the mental health of call centre employees. 

It is common for companies to preface their calls with the phrase "We may take a little longer to take your call," which is acceptable to be fair. Despite this, I understand the anxiety, low mood, and low confidence experienced by the agent who is verbally abused daily.

In my role as a counsellor, I often hear how verbal abuse negatively impacts individuals, and I have personally experienced it in the call centre industry.

It is pertinent to note that, behind the shiny corporate logo, which promotes mental health as a priority, some individuals experience emotional breakdowns, are deflated, and may even lose hope. I have had the opportunity to counsel individuals who have worked in the call centre industry. This has shown me the sometimes devastating effects this can have on their psychological well-being.

Reports of favouritism, hierarchy superiority and implied threats of underperformance resulting in formal disciplinary action all dehumanise an individual. In some corporate cultures, speaking out is considered a problematic thing, as those who object to their treatment will suffer consequences. However, these actions are taken in a covert manner.

I would encourage those working in the call centre industry to discuss mental health. This will encourage the business to manage and monitor the abusive and threatening behaviour its employees face daily.

If this is something you identify with, you may also wish to consider consulting with a private counsellor. By stepping away from the shiny, infallible corporate EAP program, you may be able to have a real, genuine, empathic person who is eager to assist you in improving your mental health.

Please note that not all companies present themselves in this manner. Several corporations are excellent at monitoring the well-being of their front-line employees; those who serve the company's needs every day and suffer from negative experiences. This is a task that is professionally managed by some companies. Their employees are taken away from the workplace, debriefed, calmed down and, if necessary, formal counselling is arranged with a professional. Although this is the case, those who have worked in this industry may have never encountered such an understanding approach.

You might be able to voice your concerns without having to worry about the company hearing about them if you seek private counselling. As a result of abuse, negativity, and personal attacks, an increased number of individuals are in need of support. These individuals may also need someone with whom they can vent their frustrations without judgment, in addition to consequences. This may be contributing to the increase in the need for support.

It is critical that we stand up and reach out. Beyond the EAP initiative, there are numerous other avenues for addressing your mental health concerns.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, TS20
Written by Neil Evans, He/ Him / His MBACP Registered (Accred):Clinical Supervisor
Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, TS20

Hello I'm Neil and I am a professional counsellor. Together the aim is to help you reach a goal or make a change in your life. I believe you can achieve your personal goals, and enjoy a new outlook on life.

I am a very relational person, so the cousnelling experience will be informal, human and non-judemental. Please take a look at my profile.

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