Good mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It’s about your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with everyday life. Here we take a closer look at mental health and how you can maintain a positive relationship with yours.
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It's not the same as mental health, although the two can influence each other.
Long periods of low mental wellbeing can lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
If you're living with a mental health condition, you may experience low mental wellbeing more often, but there will also be long periods where you're able to maintain good mental wellbeing.
While business itself is persevering, last year, a survey by Accounting Web found that more than half (53%) of accountants and bookkeepers’ stress levels had given them cause for concern.
“Eventually it all got too much for me. Things started to slip through my hands because of the pressure, and my marriage and my studies both suffered.”
We’ve seen audit directors trying to juggle reporting season with home-schooling, along with trainees struggling without an office environment where they can develop their new skills.
Accountants are crucial to the smooth operation of the economy and will play a vital role in rebuilding it.
It’s so important, therefore, that accountants are equipped to take care of their mental health and wellbeing.
Good mental wellbeing isn’t the absence of negative thoughts and feelings. Instead, it's about being able to understand and manage those feelings so that you’re better able to:
Our mental wellbeing is often affected by big life events that we have little or no control over such as bereavement, illness, or redundancy. In these situations, it's about how we respond – our behaviours and habits – that determines the impact on our mental wellbeing.
For example, do we ask for support or withdraw?
Do we assume the worst or remain open to new opportunities?
It's here that our level of resilience comes into play. Resilience is your ability to cope with change and adversity. By strengthening your resilience, you're better able to maintain good mental wellbeing through all of life's ups and downs.
Strong connections with friends, family, and colleagues help to strengthen our confidence and self-esteem. Learn more about building positive relationships.
Through good nutrition and regular physical activity we can boost our energy levels, improve our confidence, and relieve stress. Small changes make a big difference. Start building healthy habits today.
Practising mindfulness can help you understand and manage strong emotions so that rather than feeling overwhelmed, you're able to approach difficult situations with a sense of calm and clarity. Learn more with our free online course.
Accountancy environments are often work hard, play hard. The hours can be long, the deadlines tough, and the pressure to deliver for colleagues and clients can be exhausting.
The ability to cope all adds to feelings of stress and worry. In addition, we know there’s often still a stigma attached to showing that you’re struggling. A culture of openness is essential to encourage early intervention.
Senior role models must lead by example, rather than taking a hard-line approach. They need to show empathy and understanding when someone does ask for help.
With small and large businesses alike concerned about what the future holds, many are relying even more than ever on their accountants for advice and consultancy to plan for the future.
It’s easy in these kinds of situations to slip into a role where you’re relied upon to provide reassurance, but that kind of pressure can be a lot to take on, so it’s essential that accountants get support themselves.
We must encourage team members to share the load. We all need to take care of ourselves, but that’s impossible when all of our energy is spent taking care of those around us.
Flag to your team if your workload is becoming too much, or requests from clients are too demanding. Don’t try to take on everything by yourself.
Likewise, look for opportunities to help those around you. If you’re struggling with the pressures of the job, others might be, too. If you notice a team member working longer hours or withdrawing, consider a quick message to ask how they’re coping.
It’s important to find ways of separating our work from our everyday lives. This can be difficult when working from home, but it’s vital to avoiding burning out.
Be strict with your working hours. Assign a particular room of the house to use only for work, or, if you have to work from the kitchen table, make sure you put your laptop away at the end of the day. The environments in which we spend our time have an enormous impact on the way we feel.
While there’s still progress to be made in encouraging accountants to be more open about their wellbeing, firms are realising the importance of positive mental health.
It’s becoming commonplace to offer GP helplines, employee assistance programmes, flexible working hours, meditation classes, and mindfulness groups.
If you're worried about your mental health and wellbeing, talk to us. From a listening ear, to counselling sessions with a qualified counsellor, we'll help you work through any difficulties you're facing.
We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students.
You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer page.
If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.
*Please note none of our other services are means-tested.