The ICAS Mental Fitness survey: What you told us
Discover the results from last year’s Mental Fitness survey and find out how ICAS is using the insights to help support its Members, Students and firms.
In September 2021, ICAS undertook a survey of its Members and Students to learn more about their opinions and experiences in relation to wellbeing and mental health.
Almost 1000 people participated in the survey, providing information on wellbeing in their organisations, the issues which negatively impact their wellbeing at work, any experiences of poor mental health, and the strategies they have used to cope.
Insights from the survey and a range of other sources enable ICAS to better understand the experiences and needs of our customers and are used to help create and refine our related strategy, resources and support services.
This process of gathering insight from Members and Students is vitally important to ICAS and we would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide their feedback.
Key findings and recent initiatives
The key findings from the survey are illustrated below, along with information on some of ICAS' recent mental fitness-related actions and initiatives.
39% of you agreed that ‘ICAS needs to do more to support Members and Students with mental health issues’.
In 2021 we launched our new Mental Fitness Strategy. The three-year plan aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental ill-health in business, provide access to resources and see ICAS become a leading voice for the promotion of mental fitness. The first year of the three-year plan saw ICAS kick-starting a discussion around mental ill-health. The aim of this year, 2022, is for ICAS to be in the position of facilitator, putting people in touch with the resources they need. By year three, 2023, we aim to be the 'gold standard' and have a demonstrable record of making a positive difference in the mental-health space.
One of the first major deliveries from our strategy was the launch of our Student Assistance Programme, a suite of wellbeing services offering support to our CA Students. The Programme is a confidential service designed to help Students deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting their home or work life, their health and general wellbeing.
The services, such as 24/7 365-day access to BACP-accredited counsellors, can help to support with a wide range of issues such as coping with exam pressure, managing working and studying, study patterns, legal issues and managing change.
89% of you said you use exercise to cope with stress
Last year we launched Well Together, a collective wellbeing journey that encouraged ICAS Members and Students of all fitness levels to take time out and combine their local efforts for a virtual trip around the world. The campaign participants completed a grand total of 4817 runs, walks, cycles and swims, surpassed their target and covered an incredible 48,552 km. The six ICAS Strava Clubs that facilitated the journey remain up and running and continue to provide a great source of health and wellbeing motivation.
82% of you said you felt an ‘inappropriate amount of stress related to work’.
CA Wellbeing – our dedicated online resource for good health and wellbeing – continued to grow, with information for employers and employees to maintain wellbeing in the workplace.
The new, targeted content includes links to resources and advice on recognising signs of low mental wellbeing in a colleague, supporting colleagues, creating a wellbeing-supportive workplace and managing your individual wellbeing at work.
67% of you said you use food or drink to cope with stress
In May 2021 we hosted a webinar with Qualified Solution Focused Psychotherapist, Gin Lalli. During the session, which can be watched on demand, Gin examined the science behind anxiety, stress and depression and offered simple tips to help you feel better physically and mentally.
19% of respondents said they had experienced panic attacks in the last 12 months
We provided information on how to cope with anxiety brought on by the lifting of lockdown restrictions, including simple hints and tips to help you adjust and manage symptoms, and links to a range of specialist resources and further information.
Further recent activity
Throughout 2021 we featured a variety of informative and engaging content across ICAS channels that was guided by our Mental Fitness Strategy’s first-year aim of kick-starting a discussion around mental ill-health in business and helping to begin the process of breaking down associated stigma.
Ending workplace stigma linked to mental health
In May, Geoff McDonald, former Global VP of Human Resources for Unilever, led an episode of our ICAS Insights webinar series. Geoff, who is now a keynote speaker, business transformation advisor and campaigner, used his personal mental-health insights and his professional experience to help inspire business leaders to embrace mental-health issues and empower their organisations to make positive change. You can watch the session on demand here.
The London Episode
For the third of our London Episode events, we partnered with mental health campaigner, communicator, writer and strategist Alastair Campbell to explore strategies for managing wellbeing and supporting the wellbeing of others.
The May 2021 edition of our CA magazine took a deep dive into the topic of mental fitness. In the issue we heard from Arianna Huffington on making mental health her mission. Alastair Campbell shared his journey to mental health advocacy, Bruce Cartwright CA, ICAS' CEO, explained why personal wellbeing is a business imperative, and ICAS' Marketing Director, Janice Hutchinson, and ICAS Member Jonny Jacobs CA talked about our Mental Fitness Strategy.
The CA Summit 2021
When the second edition of our award-winning digital conference the CA Summit took place in October, mental fitness featured heavily on the agenda. In her session, Qualified Solution Focused Psychotherapist, Gin Lalli, explained how organisations are beginning to realise that they have a responsibility to look after the mental health of their staff to ensure they can perform at their best.
In his session, Mental fitness coach Alex Strang shared experiences with mental wellbeing and reaching mental burnout. And Alastair Campbell closed the session for the conference’s Learn chapter by discussing his experiences with mental wellbeing.
Championing Unique Perspectives
Our Championing Unique Perspectives campaign series marked World Suicide Prevention Day by sharing the inspiring story of Matthew Halstead CA, who discussed his ongoing relationship with his mental wellbeing and the importance of talking openly.
Changing the culture within ICAS
Within ICAS itself we introduced a programme of activity, shaped by staff, to put solutions in place which help colleagues feel more comfortable talking about their mental health. Our ‘Healthy Minds’ programme aims to remove stigma and help managers feel skilled and capable of supporting their team’s mental health.
As part of this initiative, we began recruiting an internal network of trained staff members who can provide support, signposting and trusted conversations about mental health, and who will inform and role-model language and behaviours around mental health to bring about change within the organisation.
Whilst this practice-what-you-preach approach will benefit ICAS internally, it is also a key part of the process by which we improve our services to our Members and Students – staff who are better supported and more informed about mental-health issues will be empowered to translate these positive experiences into the assistance and resources they design and deliver for our customers.
Focused on mental fitness in 2022 and beyond
Continuing with our strategic approach, mental fitness will be a key focus for ICAS throughout this year, and beyond. Mental fitness will also be the theme for our new Finance+ insight series during May and December of this year, looking at ways in which to develop and support healthy minds and happy workplaces.
For all the latest mental fitness news, features and resources, please visit the CA Wellbeing section of icas.com: