what is good mental health and why is it important?

Your mental wellbeing is about your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with everyday life.

 

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. 

“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.”

Ted

caba client

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.  

That’s something we’ve also seen here at caba. Emotional wellbeing support was the second most common reason for people getting in touch in the last couple of years. 

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. 

what does good mental wellbeing look like? 

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: 

  • feel confident 
  • build and maintain positive relationships 
  • have a sense of purpose 
  • live and work productively 
  • cope with the normal stresses of day-to-day life 
  • manage when things change 

what can affect your mental wellbeing? 

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.  

“I’m a confident and resilient person, and I’ve always believed that if something isn’t working, you just work harder to overcome it. I was wrong! I was at home on the weekend and suddenly became really distressed – I was crying and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I only found out later that what I’d experienced was a panic attack. My GP diagnosed me with depression and anxiety from stress.”

Roger

caba client

there are also factors that influence our mental wellbeing, which we can control: 

relationships 

Strong connections with friends, family, and colleagues help to strengthen our confidence and self-esteem. Learn more about building positive relationships. 

physical health 

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. 

If you have chronic health conditions, speak to your GP to see what they can offer to help, or look into treatment programmes such as Curable. 

emotional health 

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

how to improve your mental wellbeing 

remove the stigma 

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. 

share the load 

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. 

set boundaries 

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.  

take advantage of the support available 

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.  

You can also get further guidance in our mental health section.

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is or was dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means tested?

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. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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