Whatever your political beliefs, Ed Milliband’s speech about mental health earlier this week strikes me as a watershed moment, says Wendy Saunders, head of development at the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA).
It is the first time, so far as anyone at CABA can recall, that a figure within the Westminster village has highlighted the impact that this serious problem has on individuals and society overall.
The Labour leader called mental illness the "biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age” and pointed to estimates that suggested it costs businesses £26bn every year – a figure large enough that it should catch the attention of chartered accountants.
CABA speaks to an increasing number of accountants who either bring their mental health problems to us or who, from our conversations with them, are clearly suffering from mental health issues to such an extent that their work and home lives are being affected. The severity of their issues varies widely but some are very distressed.
The good news for these people is that proven help is available from sources such as CABA or, of course, from your GP.
While the taboo around mental illness is perhaps starting to fade, it is important to point out that this is treated as highly confidential.
So, if you feel that you have a problem, there is no reason not to pick up the phone.
Wendy Saunders is the head of development at the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA).
About Robert Lovell
Business and finance journalist