Workload, long hours and work complexity have contributed to more than half of accountants suffering with stress and burnout, yet many also feeling too busy to access mental health support or sceptical as to whether it will make any difference.
Fifty-six per cent of accountants surveyed on behalf of Caba – a mental health and wellbeing charity that supports the chartered accountancy profession – said they felt stressed and burnt out, compared with 41% of employees across a wider range of professions and sectors.
Seventy-nine per cent identified stress and poor mental health as a major problem within accountancy, with the reasons for this being heavy workload (87%), long working hours (72%) and the complexity of their work, which has no room for error (63%).
Although almost half (49%) of the 795 accountants polled noted that their organisation had increased the level of wellbeing support offered during the pandemic, this was scarcely used. Many had not utilised an employer-provided counselling helpline (86%), mental health app or tool (63%), or any mental health days provided by their organisation (46%). Sixty-nine per cent had not sought support outside of work either.
The reasons given for this reluctance to use employer-provided support included not having time (36%), not considering their condition to be severe enough (32%) and the belief that that it would not help (23%).
Accountants appeared more willing to participate in more “informal” activities to improve their wellbeing, Caba found. Eighty-six per cent had followed advice to take more regular breaks, take a proper lunchbreak, or go for a walk.
Caba chief executive, Dr Cristian Holmes, said accountancy is a demanding profession and staff needed to understand what to do when stress becomes unmanageable, including how to seek more formal support.
“It’s very encouraging that many in our profession are attentive to improving their mental health and wellbeing, are open to exploring advice and are incorporating this into their working lives. Yet for many others, this has been a much more difficult time, and it’s troubling that the survey indicates that there hasn’t been adequate and timely support in place,” said Dr Holmes.
“We would encourage all members of the community to use resources supplied by their employer, as well as those available from Caba and other support charities.”
A separate poll of 500 HR professionals across multiple sectors, also commissioned by Caba, shed further light on the prevalence of mental health concerns across the workforce. Forty-two per cent said they had staff suffering with mental health issues and 43% had seen more employees than usual requesting mental health support during the pandemic.
Nearly eight in 10 HR professionals thought their workplace provided adequate mental health support for their employees.