Supporting Mental Health Amongst Accountants
How to Support your employees:
With Christmas well and truly packed away for another year, and all of that new year hope and positivity starting to wane – January can be a struggle for many of us. Add to this the long dark nights, a less than healthy bank balance and those few extra pounds we are carrying around, and this month can be a depressing time.
And let’s not forget, we’re getting back into work after a nice long break which is a shock to the system – not least for the accountants of this world who have the busiest month of the whole year.
20th January 2020: Blue Monday
While there may not be any scientific research backing Blue Monday – in fact it was actually created by a PR company in in 2005, these cluster of causes for feeling low in January can affect us all. And indeed, for many of your employees, depression is very real and extends way beyond the month of January. So, although we do not wish to trivialise mental health as an issue dictated by a date, we feel it’s important to highlight depression as an issue and offer some ideas for you to help the 1 in 6 of us in the UK who suffer.
Your duty – As an employer, you have a duty of care to support your employee’s health, safety and wellbeing. A mental health issue can also be considered a disability, and if so – you must consider making reasonable adjustments to the work of employees who suffer. This could mean allowing more breaks and supporting them by helping to prioritise their workload. Not only is this your legal obligation, but it could help reduce sickness absence and improve morale. Plus, creating a supportive work environment should be part of your business culture.
In 2017, Deloitte launched their “This is me” campaign where key members of the organisation came forward to talk about their experience of mental health issues. The focus was on early disclosure and access to support. The videos produced have been viewed thousands of times and have dramatically increased employee support channels.
How to spot it – Depression can be a silent disease, but managers throughout your organisation should be aware of the tell-tale signs such as; an increase in sick days, forgetting deadlines, withdrawing from work friendships, displays of aggression or looking overly tired. Managers can be the first port of call when an employee is suffering from a mental health issue, so it’s vital that they can a) spot the signs and b) support the employee. You might consider educating management staff by investing in training courses and workshops, and perhaps appointing mental health champions. A show of support from a manager, and some small changes in the workplace make all the difference and could prevent any depression from escalating.
Next steps – It may be that your employee feels unable to talk about their mental health, even after intervention from their manager. When this happens, patience, reassurance and some careful monitoring will help. And if there continues to be concerns for the employee, seek advice from HR or Occupational Health. During this time, we should not neglect the rest of the team who may be picking up the slack when team members are absent or working reduced hours. It should be made clear that the door is always open for them to talk about any worries or additional support they may need.
This Blue Monday, why not implement one small thing to help your employees with a mental health issue. A simple cup of tea and a one to one chat between managers and staff. Ask the team how they feel about their work environment – do they have enough quiet spaces to use? Enforce a lunch break on Blue Monday and offer a healthy treat as a reward!
“Your staff need to feel engaged and heard. Openness, trust, two-way conversations and involvement in decision making are key. Only by seeking views and addressing any issues will you understand and improve your staff mental health issues.”
Garry Howling of Public Practice Recruitment Ltd
As specialist accountancy recruiters, we know how candidates think – how their minds work. When it comes to all aspects of the accountant recruitment process, we’re the experts – always here to help.
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