Held on 10 October Worldwide, the World Health Organisation aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) president Jane Stanton said this year’s theme ‘Do You See What I See?’ reinforces the need to break down barriers and get people talking about their struggles.
“We need to look at mental health with more compassion and greater acceptance, to extend a connection and let people know they are not alone,” said Ms Stanton.
“Discussions about mental health are not something that communities or organisations should shy away from.
“We’re increasingly seeing people acknowledge mental health as part of a person’s overall wellbeing, recognising that tending to mental health is just as important as our physical health.”
Further, Ms Stanton said accountants were well placed to identify stressors that were affecting clients, while also acknowledging the need for self-care within the profession.
“Chartered accountants are trusted advisers, and when times are difficult, it can be immensely stressful for our clients,” said Ms Stanton.
“That is why chartered accountants are so important in their communities; they can be in a position to help someone seek help, particularly because other issues can lead to financial difficulties.
“Our profession can demand a lot from us, and therefore it is important that our professional body provides the right support tools and resources so members can have that conversation,” she added.
“The organisation aids members professionally, but is also there to assist us personally, to help them manage their own wellbeing and support them through their struggles. As a profession, we also support each other.”
The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) has been lobbying for the role of accountants in the mental health of their clients to be recognised since mid last year.
For chief executive of the IPA, Andrew Conway, federal government being aware of the impact an accountant can have on the SME community in Australia is a powerful lobbying tool.
Further, Mr Conway believes understanding the role of accountants in the mental health of the SME community is crucial to understanding what small business needs to flourish in Australia.
In November last year, the IPA released research indicating 85 per cent of small businesses found engaging an accountant significantly reduced their stress levels.
“Flipping that around, we were also surprised that over a quarter of small businesses told us that if they knew then what they know now, they wouldn’t have gone into small business. That is quite alarming. That figure is quite an indictment on the economic and policy settings,” said Mr Conway.