Marking World Mental Health Day 2021
World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the type of mental health issues that the coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief.
The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. The overarching objective for the day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.
The 2021 event takes place in a year where many of us are still struggling with the challenges presented by COVID-19.
From the pressures of life under lockdown, to loneliness and isolation, anxiety over health and financial concerns and grief for lost lives, most people have suffered impacts upon their mental health.
With many workplaces now bringing staff back to the office, this in itself can leave individuals feeling anxious and unsure about whether or not they feel comfortable returning to these environments.
For those who were already facing mental health problems pre-pandemic, life may well have become additionally challenging.
Mental health and inequality
This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day, which was set by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.
According to WFMH, ‘75%-95% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries are unable to access mental health services at all, and access in high income countries is not much better.’
Pre-pandemic research showed that mental health problems were the biggest cause of sickness absence, costing up to £45 billion a year in the UK alone. Add in the economic impacts of COVID-19 and employers can’t afford not to look after their staff’s mental wellbeing.
Even in socially distant times there are ways to connect with and care for employees, such as the SHARE approach outlined by the British Psychological Society, which aims to help create healthy, sustainable homeworking conditions.
Help for Members and CA Students
The ICAS Mental Fitness Pledge – Healthy Minds Start Here – which launched in May 2021, is a long-term commitment to educate, support and lead on mental health.
Through initiatives such as CA Wellbeing we are attempting to stimulate debate and promote positive wellbeing for the good of the profession and in the public interest, much as we stand behind ethics, sustainability and equality. Our attitude is that Chartered Accountants should be as concerned with human capital as they are by financial capital.
With the aim of adding a tangible service to our wellbeing offering, ICAS has recently launched a new Student Assistance Programme. The programme consists of a suite of wellbeing services offering support for all CA Students, provided by Health Assured. This is a confidential service designed to help Students deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting their home life, work-life, health and general wellbeing.
There are also simple steps many of us as individuals can take to better look after our mental health, such as eating well, keeping active, talking about our feelings and asking for help when we need it. And if there is some good to come from the current prevalence of mental health concerns it might be that, as they gain a more mainstream acceptance, those who feel the need to ask for help may be more likely to do so, and their voices more likely to be heard.
What resources are available to help?
There are some great sources of information available to those who want some guidance on how to look after their mental health, with much of it specifically focusing on doing so while living in lockdown.
The Mental Health Foundation has some helpful advice around keeping your mental wellness a priority, signposts for people to follow if they want to reach out for support and some great tips on how to get out and make the most of nature.
The mental health charity Mind also provides help and support both for those who are looking for information for themselves, and those who want some guidance on how to help someone else.
Additional support for CAs
SCABA – The Scottish Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (SCABA) is a charity that supports CAs, their dependants and prospective CAs who are in need. SCABA was founded in 1919 and since then has supported hundreds of Members and their families. Life-changing events mean that support may be needed for a variety of reasons such as ill-health, redundancy, debt, re-training etc. Find out more about how SCABA can help you.
Mentoring – At ICAS we understand the importance of career mentoring and the vital role it can play in a Chartered Accountant’s professional success. If you are looking for any guidance or support, consider reaching out to another CA via our mentoring platform.