One in three accountants in the UK are suffering from stress or more serious mental health issues despite reasonable levels of support from employers, reveals CABA research
A third of respondents said that progressive attitudes towards mental ill health are making it easier for them to talk to their employers about the issues, a much higher figure than elsewhere in the world where less than 10% feel comfortable about discussing the problem.
Employees also said they felt supported by their employers with 47% stating that they feel supported by their managers in speaking about any problems and just under half (49%) feel they have adequate support to deal with the pressures at work.
The CABA findings are more positive than a recent Mind survey into employer attitudes to mental health at work.
The Mind research showed that mental health at work is still a taboo. Nearly a third (30%) of respondents to the Mind survey said they would not be able to talk openly with their line manager if they were stressed. Of the 14% of respondents who had a diagnosed mental health problem, fewer than half (45%) had told their current employer.
Mind is calling for employers to create an open culture where people feel able to discuss their wellbeing and tackle the causes of stress among their staff.
By contrast, the international sample of respondents were less likely to speak openly about mental health, with just 12% saying they had experienced mental ill health, demonstrating a reticence still remains when talking about the illness universally.
Kelly Feehan, services director at CABA said: ‘While 30% may seem a high percentage of people to be affected by mental ill health, we actually see this figure as a silver lining.
‘Speaking openly about mental ill health is a big step forward both for the sector and to break the stigma around the illness.
‘We now hope that both employers and employees internationally follow the UK’s lead in being more open about any problems they face around mental ill health, not least because confronting the issue is the first step to recovery.’
The research also showed that 17% of past and present ICAEW members in the UK have taken time off due to stress, highlighting how employers need to be prepared to support those feeling under pressure and also have procedures in place to support other team members should core staff need to take time off work.
Kelly added: ‘Accountancy is a high pressure, but rewarding environment. Like other high achieving professions, it can trigger stress, anxiety or depression. Therefore, we urge any employee feeling like this to talk to their line manager at once before the situation escalates.
‘While our research showed that half of accountants are well prepared for the stresses of the profession and believe it simply comes with the job, many will need a helping hand at some point and shouldn’t ever feel put off by about asking for help.’
The Mind Wellness Action Plan, an online tool providing support for employees, is available here
The CABA website has information on stress management andhow to spot the signs of stress in employees, go to www.caba.org.uk
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