Service director at CABA
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Time for your accountancy wellbeing check-up

In the wake of World Suicide Prevention Day, CABA service director Kelly Freehan offers some everyday advice to accountants on how to take care of your mental health.

28th Sep 2020
Service director at CABA
Columnist
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These past few years, there has been a growing focus in the accountancy profession on the importance of mental health. This is something to be praised. 

In such a fast-paced and high-pressure industry, it can be easy to let our wellbeing slide. Over an extended period of time, doing so can cause stress and depression which, in some instances, can even lead to suicidal thoughts.

Recognising when a friend or colleague is struggling with such feelings can be challenging enough. Identifying it in ourselves can be even more difficult. But there are signs that you can look for, and in many cases, steps that can be taken to return to a more positive frame of mind.

To help, especially in the wake of World Suicide Prevention Day, the experts at CABA, the charity supporting the wellbeing of chartered accountants and their families, offer some everyday advice on how to take care of your mental health.

Take care of yourself

While many of the signs of poor mental health tend to hinge on a negative internal monologue, there can actually be physical symptoms too. These might include problems with sleeping, changes in your appetite or even to your weight. It’s a vicious cycle. 

As your self-esteem drops, it’s likely that you’ll be less interested in taking care of yourself. Without some form of intervention, this downward trajectory will only contribute to your perceived lack of self-worth, knocking your self-esteem even further. 

The truth is that self-care is important, especially when you’re struggling with your mental health. Paying attention to your diet, exercising regularly and making sure that you get enough sleep all contribute to positive emotional and mental wellbeing. 

Even giving some extra care to our appearance and taking pride in the way that we look can give us a much-needed boost.

Check your behaviour

Behavioural cues are among some of the most overt signs that someone is struggling with their mental health, but we can also look for these signals in ourselves. Sudden bursts of anger, misuse of drugs and alcohol or a desire to act recklessly, with little thought for our safety, can all be very telling. 

The issue with recognising this behaviour in ourselves is that it can be difficult to acknowledge when we need help. We might try to argue that we’re still in control or that there’s another root-cause. It can be challenging but stepping back and taking an honest look at our actions is always the first step towards returning to a more positive frame of mind.

Open up

The first response to feelings such as stress or anxiety is often to bottle them up. In a high-pressure accounting career, there may be a sense of shame and therefore a reluctance to admit that you are struggling this way. 

The industry’s badge of honour mentality has a particularly negative impact here. Trying to ignore or try to deny these kinds of feelings will only cause them to fester. 

We need to confront them head-on if we’re going to find a healthy way of moving past them.

Reconnect 

It’s common for people who are struggling with their self-esteem to believe that they’re unwanted or unneeded by others. These feelings can lead us to isolate ourselves, causing us to feel even more alone when in fact we need urgently to reach out for support and reassurance. 

Try speaking to a family member or perhaps a friend that you haven’t heard from in a while. Even if it’s just for a quick catch up or to go and watch a movie together, reminding ourselves that we aren’t alone and that we are valued by others can go a long way.

Seek help

According to our own research with Leicester University, 70% of accountants were reluctant to seek help when struggling with their mental health, believing that they should be self-reliant. This simply shouldn’t be the case. 

CABA has a wide range of materials and support options available to help accountants and their families keep on top of their everyday mental wellbeing. 

In some cases though, more serious help is required. If you’re concerned about your own mental health or that of someone close to you, there are many organisations that can give you the right advice and support. 

To speak with a trained, impartial professional, contact 1 of the free helplines below. Alternatively, speak with your GP or call NHS 111 for an emergency appointment.  

Samaritans

Call 116 123 any day, any time. If you prefer to express your feelings in writing, email [email protected]. Visit, samaritans.org for more information. 

CALM

CALM is a resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. Call the helpline on 0800 58 58 58.

PAPYRUS

This voluntary organisation aims to support young people thinking about suicide and those who are concerned about a young person. Call 0800 068 41 41 or visit papyrus-uk.org for more information. 

With suicide affecting so many people in the UK, it’s important to know how to help your family or friends who may be having suicidal thoughts, as well as those struggling with depression and anxiety. Remember, it’s not always easy to spot the signs in others but being able to offer the right support if you do, can make all the difference.

As lockdown continues, we face new challenges. We want to help you maintain a sense of balance and control in your lives, and that’s why CABA is building on the ‘Keeping Yourself Well’ campaign hub with new and relevant advice and information. New self-help articles on topics such as how to maintain a work-life blend, redundancy, coping with the new normal and preparing for winter will be available, along with information on all of our support services. Our content will cover all areas of wellbeing – mental, physical, career, financial, care and relationships – and we’ll continue to add more useful resources in line with what’s happening in the world.

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