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Boost Mental Health and Confidence Among Accountants

Maanoj Shah
Posted by Maanoj Shah on Mar 19, 2024 3:27:30 PM

The dialogue over mental health has drastically improved over the past decade. As employers and employees become more sensitive, it is essential to ensure that the conversation about this doesn’t remain confined within the walls of the conference rooms or be limited to “workplace policy.” As stress continues to be an integral part of our daily lives—both personal and professional—it becomes all the more important to move towards eliminating it. 

There is no doubt that Accounting as a profession is highly demanding and sometimes stressful. With money matters and demands from clients and employers continuing to lurk over accountants, accounting firms must become more thoughtful about their approach to dealing with the concern.  

According to a survey by Thomson Reuters, 28% of accountants claim that their work affects their mental health. The same survey also found that 41% of accountants get overwhelmed by the workload, and 32% struggle to balance the personal and professional. About 7000 professionals across eight countries were involved in the survey. 

The connection between accountants’ mental health and confidence 

Accountants are key for any business. Whether they work in an accounting firm or are an internal resource for an organization, they are the closest to the management, closer than any senior employee will ever be. They know all the financial secrets of the business, and the leaders trust and rely on them for everything. The problem is that accountants do not see it that way. They often perceive their profession as trivial, which can lead to a lack of confidence. Finding an accountant who truly understands the value they add to a business and is confident is a rare sight.  

Poor mental health among accountants only makes it worse. Given that sound mental health is the foundation upon which confidence flourishes, accountants end up lacking in both. And maybe the entire accounting industry is responsible for this mindset. High levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout overpower these professionals, especially during the busy season, and erode their confidence even further.  

The reasons above should be enough for employers and accounting firm owners to foster an environment where the accountants’ mental health and confidence are nurtured.  

Tips to boost mental health among accountants:  

Times are stressful. Balancing the minds is as important as balancing the books, if not more. According to ICAEW, 30.4% of accountants suffer from mental health issues and 51% admit that depression and anxiety leave them dreading to go to work. This is about half of the accounting professionals. This should be alarming enough to take the necessary actions.  

Here are some tips that can help accountants with their mental health: 

Educate yourself and others: Although we have come a long way when it comes to mental health, we have a long way to go. The stigma around the subject continues to exist, and educating yourself and others is the first step towards achieving it. This is for both accountants and the leaders of the firms they work at. Take time to learn about the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and identify those who are struggling. If you are someone struggling with mental health issues, it might be wise to take the initiative to educate your peers and seniors. Share articles, books, and training programs that might help.

Acknowledge boundaries: In the field of accounting, when the workload gets heavier, the borders between the professional and personal tend to blur. To ensure that the accountants in your firm can keep their sanity intact, the firm leaders need to recognize and honor the distinction between work hours and personal time. Plan if you have a workload that is more than usual in the foreseeable future. Make sure that the work is well distributed. Giving your workforce the time to disconnect once the workday is over, without the fear of being judged or intruded, is extremely important. 

Encourage quality breaks: We all understand the importance of breaks in the workday. Instead of penalizing your employees for taking a breather amid their work, promote the idea of taking regular, undisturbed breaks. These could include short walks, mindful exercises, or even a quiet meal. Stepping away from the workstation even briefly can encourage mental rejuvenation. Also, promote the importance of logging in and out on time instead of encouraging unnecessary long hours.

Recognize and appreciate employee efforts: Everyone likes being appreciated, especially when they have put in a lot of effort. Celebrate the employees’ contributions and dedication through appreciation, rewards, and recognition. Knowing that they make a difference can be a boost to their mental health and give them a sense of belonging.  

Flexible work schedules: The modern workforce prefer to avoid stringent work arrangements. Wherever and whenever possible, allow flexibility. This could be in terms of time, location, etc. This not only helps acknowledge individual work patterns but also respects personal commitments, helping improve overall work-life balance.  

Build a support network within the organization: Speaking up when someone is suffering from mental health downtime can be extremely difficult. The first step is to be mindful and be a good listener. The second step should be a support network where employees are encouraged to talk about their issues to a colleague, senior, or professional if needed. Ideally, the conversations that happen here should be confidential and judgment-free.

Organize mental health sessions: Accountants work under a lot of pressure, and mental health sessions allow them to identify signs and symptoms. These sessions, conducted by professionals, can give them perspective and help them distinguish between what they think is another day of stress and a persistent mental health problem.   

Tips to boost confidence while working as an accountant: 

As an Accountant, it is important to remember that you can make a lot of difference to a firm’s growth and success. Here are a few tips to boost your confidence:

Celebrate your success: No matter how small, celebrate your success. Accountants must be appreciated by their leaders, but it is equally important that you applaud yourself first. Remember to reward yourself for all that you do. It is easy to become your critic. But make focusing on the positives a habit. 

Practice and grow: You best judge your strengths and weaknesses, and it is a great way to develop in your career. For example, if you are struggling with filing business taxes, you might consider a training or a refresher program. This will make you feel more confident and give you handy tricks. Similarly, attend soft skill training that you think you lack. Learning something new and becoming better at it will help you rediscover yourself. 

Know your worth: Take a break and appreciate the amount of work you do and the quality you deliver. Think about the appreciation and positive feedback you receive. Think about the time you are asked for advice. Be in contact with people who see the value you bring to the accounting field. Don’t take yourself for granted, and don’t let others do so.  

Tips for dealing with a colleague who might be dealing with mental health problems: 

When we suspect a colleague might be facing mental health challenges, the way we approach the situation can significantly impact their comfort and willingness to open up. Here are some gentle suggestions to consider:

Encouraging Open Conversations:

  • Choose a private setting to express your concerns, ensuring privacy and respect.
  • Mention specific behaviors or situations that prompted your worry, to clarify your intentions.
  • Listen with empathy, allowing them to share their feelings without fear of judgment.
  • Maintain a calm and accepting demeanor, offering them space to talk about their experiences if they choose.
  • When appropriate, sharing your own similar experiences can foster connection and understanding.
  • If they haven't sought professional advice, gently ask if they'd like help in finding support.

Practices to Avoid:

  • Avoid becoming overly involved to the point of discomfort for either of you.
  • Never minimize their feelings or suggest they're exaggerating their emotions.
  • Steer clear of suggesting they're just "overthinking" things.
  • Remember, it's not your role to manage their emotional well-being.
  • Resist the urge to propose simple solutions to complex issues.
  • Be attentive to any indications of serious distress and avoid dismissing them.

These suggestions aim to foster a supportive environment, encouraging open dialogue while respecting boundaries and promoting professional guidance when needed. 

Top Associations in the US that can help with mental health issues: 

Navigating mental health challenges can be a complex journey, one that requires understanding, empathy, and appropriate resources. While offering a listening ear and support to our colleagues is valuable, it's crucial to recognize when professional guidance is needed. Our role isn't to solve these challenges but to provide compassionate support and direct our colleagues towards professionals who can make a significant difference.

For those moments when a colleague may need more than we can offer, here are trusted organizations equipped to provide the specialized help they might need:

Boosting Mental Health in Accountants - End note  

Being a sensitive matter of discussion, mental health awareness becomes all the more important. As corporate life and personal lives continue to get stressful, it is important to pay more attention to the needs of your accounting workforce. Accounting firm leaders should ensure that they provide the necessary support needed for their employees to remain healthy physically and mentally. Provide access to mental health resources and guidance, raise awareness, manage workload and expectations, and create an environment where accountants are comfortable sharing their issues.   

This not only helps foster a healthy workplace environment but also helps firms create a brand image that the modern-day workforce is seeking.   

Disclaimer: The guidance provided above does not cover all possible signs, symptoms, and considerations for addressing mental health challenges in the workplace. We advise using discretion in your communication and, when in doubt, consult with a professional.

Sponsored Content: This article is generously brought to you by one of our valued sponsors. Their support enables us to continue delivering expert insights and the latest industry trends to our dedicated community of accounting professionals.

Topics: Finger on the Pulse


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