How CPAs and Employers Can Support Mental Health

At the moment, we are all dealing with the uncertainty of a deadly pandemic, economic upheaval and a globally divided geopolitical landscape. CPAs have also been under increased pressure to assist clients in navigating the business and tax landscape in the aftermath of COVID-19. Anxiety and depression symptoms in the corporate population have unfortunately grown manifold as a result of the above-mentioned stressors.

Why Mental Health Matters

Many professionals suffer mental health issues wherein some people seek treatment and successfully manage their conditions. At the same time, others suffer in silence due to a business community that continues to not focus on mental health and a workplace culture that may not address mental illness.

Professionals with anxiety or depression are often hesitant about confiding in others because they may not realize something is seriously wrong or do not know how to express their feelings. They may blame their low mood or anxiety on life's stresses, which all have to deal with. Maybe they're afraid of the existing stigma and how it will affect their careers. 

This is true for professionals in general but seems to be afflicting the finance and accounting community in very large numbers. Even CPAs are not immune to mental health pressures exacerbated by changes in the post-covid world. 

Removing Barriers

The hesitation could stem from a belief that mental health is a taboo at work, concern about invading someone's privacy, or vagueness about what to say. A firm does not need to change fundamentally; it only needs to build mental health awareness into its culture and seek to become a "psychological safety" place where employees can express themselves. Creating or promoting psychological safety could be as simple as undeniably normalizing the stress deep-rooted in the profession and underlining resources, like employee assistance plans. The firm could have ongoing discussions of mental health issues at meetings. Firms can also demonstrate their commitment to psychological safety by providing employees with scheduling flexibility for therapy sessions when necessary. These small changes could encourage professionals with anxiety or depression to seek professional help and empower others to watch for colleagues in distress.

The Importance of Vulnerability

With better times ahead, firms and employers must realize the importance of vulnerability. To begin with, professional in general and CPAs specifically must be willing to be vulnerable. Vulnerability isn't always easy to come by, but it's the most effective way to form the necessary genuine connections. Many CPAs may view vulnerability as unprofessional, and a sign of weakness, but employees can be vulnerable and professional at the same time. Many CPAs are accustomed to having difficult conversations with clients about crucial, often life-changing, financial, family, or personal issues. CPAs can employ empathy and comfort when discussing mental health issues. Difficult conversations necessitate grit, which CPAs possess in great abundance. Once talking about mental health issues becomes normal in a company's culture, it becomes easier for employees to reach out to colleagues.

RSM Insights

Anxiety and depression can become debilitating if left untreated. Mild or moderate cases can harm one's quality of life and productivity. Professionals who are suffering from untreated mental health disorders are unable to reach their full potential as people and professionals. To thrive, the CPA profession's members and the larger professional community must address mental health issues.

Feel free to consult RSM UAE to discuss about your employee’s mental health concerns. RSM is one of the world's leading audit, tax, and advisory service networks, recognized for innovative solutions across the globe. RSM professionals can help your company undertake the granular management analysis required for supporting employee’s mental health and creating a framework for support. 

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