By Sophie Wambui
It is known that mental health problems are prevalent in Kenya, and it is likely that accountants and auditors, like people in other professions, may be affected by mental health disorders. In Kenya, mental health is not often discussed and mental illness is stigmatized. This leads to many people not seeking help for their mental health issues. According to the WHO, an estimated 10- 20% of the population in
Kenya suffers from some form of mental health disorder, with depression and anxiety being the most common. It is important for accountants and auditors in Kenya to be aware of the risk factors for mental health disorders and to take steps to promote their mental well-being. They should seek help if they are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, whether from a mental health professional or support group, so they can get the help they need to recover.
Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are common among accountants and auditors. The high-stress nature of the work, with long hours and tight deadlines, can contribute to the development of mental health issues. Additionally, the isolation that can come with working independently, or in small teams, can exacerbate mental health problems.
Stressful work environments may contribute to the development of mental health issues in these individuals. Additionally, dealing with difficult clients or colleagues, facing the possibility of job loss or downsizing, and dealing with financial or ethical issues can also take a toll on mental health. There are several factors that can affect the mental health of accountants and auditors, including:
1.) Workload and stress: The demands of meeting deadlines and dealing with complex financial information can lead to high levels of stress and burnout. Accountants and auditors often work long hours and are under pressure to meet deadlines, which can lead to high levels of stress and burnout.
2.) Isolation: Many accountants and auditors work alone or in small teams, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, due to the nature of their work, accountants and auditors may spend a lot of time alone, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
3.) Conflicting demands: Accountants and auditors may face conflicting demands from clients, supervisors, and regulatory bodies, which can lead to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction.
4.) Ethical dilemmas: Accountants and auditors may encounter ethical dilemmas in their work, which can lead to feelings of moral distress, uncertainty and having to make difficult decisions that can weigh on their mental health.
6.) Perfectionism: The nature of accounting and auditing work often requires attention to detail and a desire for accuracy, which can lead to self-criticism.
7.) Imbalanced work-life balance: Long working hours and missing social activities, family and friend gatherings, can affect mental health of an individual. Accountants and auditors may have a hard time balancing their work and personal life, which can lead to feelings of guilt and stress.
8.) Repetitive tasks: The repetitive nature of accounting and auditing tasks can lead to feelings of boredom and disengagement. It’s important for accountants and auditors to be aware of the signs and symptoms of these mental disorders, and to seek professional help if they are experiencing them. Early recognition and intervention can be beneficial in preventing the disorders to progress and become severe.
Common mental disorders among accountants and auditors include:
1.) Anxiety: Accountants and auditors may experience high levels of anxiety due to the pressure to meet deadlines, the fear of making mistakes, and the responsibility of handling sensitive financial information.
2.) Depression: Accountants and auditors may experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and lack of motivation due to the repetitive nature of their work, the isolation, and the high levels of stress they face.
3.) Burnout: Accountants and auditors may experience burnout due to the high demands of their job, long hours, and lack of work-life balance.
4.) Stress: Accountants and auditors may experience high levels of stress due to the pressure of meeting deadlines and the fear of making mistakes.
6.) Insomnia: Accountants and auditors may experience insomnia due to the pressure to meet deadlines and the high levels of stress they face.
7.) Substance abuse: Accountants and auditors may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress of their job, which can lead to addiction and other serious health problems. It’s important for auditors and accountants to prioritize their mental health and well-being in order to prevent mental health disorders.
There are several steps that auditors and accountants can take to prevent mental health disorders, including:
1.) Managing stress: Auditors and accountants can manage stress by setting realistic goals, prioritizing tasks, and taking regular breaks. They can also practice stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
2.) Building a support system: Auditors and accountants can build a support system by staying in touch with friends and family, and by seeking out professional support when necessary.
3.) Prioritizing self-care: Auditors and accountants should prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity.
4.) Building a healthy work-life balance: Auditors and accountants should strive to maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal lives. This can include setting clear boundaries, delegating tasks, and setting realistic deadlines.
5.) Seeking professional help when needed: Auditors and accountants should seek professional help if they experience symptoms of a mental health disorder. This can include seeing a therapist, counselor or seeking a medical professional.
6.) Take breaks from work: Auditors and accountants should take regular breaks from work to rest and rejuvenate. They should also take vacation time to disconnect from work and relax.
7.) Address ethical dilemmas: Auditors and accountants should address ethical dilemmas head-on and seek guidance from colleagues or superiors when necessary to avoid feelings of guilt or stress.
8.) Education on mental health: Auditors and accountants should educate themselves about mental health and wellness and be aware of the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders.
It’s important for employers to provide support and resources for their employees to address and manage mental health concerns. Employee assistance programs, counseling services, and flexible work arrangements are examples of ways employers can support the mental well-being of their employees. It is necessary for accountants and auditors to be aware of these factors and to take steps to manage their mental health, such as seeking support from colleagues, friends, and family, practicing self-care and stress management techniques, and seeking professional help if needed.