A problem shared is a problem halved. It might be a cliché, but it's true. When you're not feeling yourself, talking things through with someone you trust can help lighten the load. It's the first step towards taking back control of your mental wellbeing. Why does talking help? Talking about something with another person allows you to see things from a different perspective. There could be another way of looking at your situation Talking aloud can help you make sense of a problem and clarify your thoughts and feelings. When we're just turning things over and over in our own heads it can be difficult to see what's really going on Another person may offer practical advice and solutions that you hadn't considered before The simple act of being listened to often has a big impact in itself. You'll feel less alone knowing that someone is there for you. You might even discover that you're not the only one who feels the way you do Sometimes just saying something aloud is immensely relieving. You may have been carrying something around in your head for a long time and talking about it can be like setting down a heavy load. You might notice your whole body relaxing as you start to talk Opening up to friends and family might encourage and empower others to do the same Talking openly about how you feel might seem awkward at first. Especially if you're not used to it. But it will get easier and become more natural the more you do it Who can you talk to? Friends and family are a great place to start. They may have already noticed that you're not quite yourself and asked if everything is ok. This can make starting a conversation a bit easier. Having said this, it's common for people to find it difficult to talk openly with friends and family, for lots of reasons. Often they're worried about upsetting people they care about, how their relationships might be affected or that they might be treated differently. And this can affect how honest and open you are about the reality of your situation. Sometimes it's easier to be more honest with someone you don't know. That's where counselling can help. Counselling, or talking therapy, is a chance for you to talk to someone who will listen without judgement. It offers you a safe space and dedicated time to talk openly about you. Your thoughts. Your feelings. And the real impact they have. A counsellor can offer an impartial perspective on what might be a very complex and intense situation. As someone who's not involved and with no personal agenda, they may be able to help you work through and understand things in ways that your friends and family can't. Ask us about counselling CA Support can arrange for you to work with a professional counsellor face-to-face, over the phone or online.  Take the first step You might have avoided opening up in the past, simply because you don't know where to start. How can you possibly articulate all the thoughts and feelings going round and round in your head? But there's no set script you have to follow, and no rush to get it all out at once. When you contact CA Support, our trained advisors will help you find the right words. And after that first step, you'll have the support of a professional counsellor to help you through the rest of the process. You won't be on your own. You can talk to an advisor in complete confidence, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us on 01 637 7342 to talk to one of the team. We are here for you. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Aug 08, 2019

Talking therapies can help many people in different situations, it gives people who are either going through a bad time or have emotional problems to discuss with someone else when they can’t sort them out on their own. Research has shown that talking therapies can work well regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, education or social class. People sometimes find it easier to talk to a stranger rather than relatives or friends. During talking therapy, a trained therapist listens to you and helps you find your own answers to problems, without judging you. It’s an opportunity to look at your problems in a different way with someone who’ll respect and encourage your opinions and decisions. Talking therapy is usually on a one-to-one basis, however, sometimes they are held in groups or couples (e.g. relationship counselling). Below are some of the situations where talking therapy can help: Mental health problems Talking therapies can help if you have depression, anxiety, eating disorders, phobias or have an addiction. They are often used if you have been diagnosed with a serious mental health condition (including schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) alongside other medicine. Difficult life events If you’re going through a sad and upsetting time, talking therapies can help. This could include bereavement, health concerns and job loss amongst many others. Physical illness They can also improve your quality of life if you have a lifelong physical illness such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease or stroke. People with long-term health conditions are particularly vulnerable to depression, and talking therapies have been proven to help. Over-65s Depression in later life (especially over 65) is often dismissed as a normal part of ageing, however, talking therapy can improve your enjoyment of life if you’re feeling low. Past abuse If you’ve been sexually abused or experienced discrimination or racism, taking a course of talking therapy could help you to cope. Relationship problems Couples therapy can help to save a troubled relationship or help you through separation and divorce. Ideally, a couple should go to counselling together, but if your partner refuses to join you, counselling can help you sort out lots of things on your own. Troubled families Family therapy is talking therapy that involves the whole family. It can be especially helpful for children with depression or a behavioural problem, or whose parents are splitting up. It can also help families in which a child or parent has an eating disorder, mental health condition or drug addiction. Anger Talking therapy can help people who find it difficult to keep their anger under control. Children Talking therapy works as well for children as it does for adults. NICE (the independent body that produces guidance on the effectiveness of medical treatments) recommends talking therapy rather than medicines for children who are depressed. It can also help children with anxiety, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and children who are in physical pain. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 05, 2019

Stigma is social injustice and an error of society. Hence, eradicating it is the responsibility and should be the priority of that society (Corrigan and Rao 2012) Current research indicates that nine out of ten people have experienced stigma related to their mental ill health and that this has significantly affected their ability to recover. Mental health difficulties are associated with great stigma and this has an effect on disclosure to friends, family and colleagues, acceptance and opportunities to take part in the activities that could support a persons' wellbeing. It's clear from this that as a society we must continually work towards diminishing people's experience of stigma, especially in the workplace. However, before we can do this it's important that we fully understand what we mean by stigma. What exactly is it and how does it manifest in everyday life, especially when mental health awareness campaigns are everywhere? What is stigma? The term 'stigma' originates from a Greek word meaning 'mark of shame' and was applied to slaves and criminals as a sign of disgrace. In the middle ages, mental illness was considered a punishment from God and has been used throughout history to denote evil. In these more modern times, stigma refers to the feelings of deep shame a person experiences when subjected to pervasive prejudice and discriminating behaviours. Rossler (2016) describes society's current attitude and behaviour towards those with mental health difficulties as, “unworthy of modern welfare states”. Why does stigma occur? In one piece of research, 56% of employers admitted they would not employ a person with depression even if they were by far the best candidate (Pescosolido 2010). In addition, 47% of respondents said they would be unwilling to work with a depressed person, and 30% thought someone with depression was potentially violent. The prejudice and discrimination that ensues from these responses only serve to isolate the person further and delay their recovery. It's been found that neurobiological explanations of mental ill health only exacerbate people's experience of stigma, as others see them as 'defective' in some way. Attitudes and behaviours that promote these views clearly need challenging and it's only through education, shaped by those with lived experience, that we'll see a change. What types of stigma are there? There are different types of stigma that we must challenge, namely social or public stigma and self-stigma or perceived stigma. Social stigma refers to prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behaviours directed towards a person with mental health difficulties and the stereotyping of people as unreliable or even violent. This might affect a person's ability to retain employment or secure a job, maintain relationships with friends and family and limit their access to activities and hobbies which might otherwise support their wellness. In the Thrive at Work report of 2017, it was found that 300, 000 people leave or lose their job due to poor mental health that hasn't been properly supported. The impact on individuals, families, communities and workplaces can be catastrophic in terms of lost quality of life and an organisation's ability to retain key members of staff. Self-stigma or perceived stigma refers to the internalisation of indirect and direct messages from others and often makes individuals with mental health difficulties vulnerable to confirming or endorsing these stereotypes. The fear of stigma also means that people feel uncomfortable reaching out for much-needed help and support. This, in turn, can delay recovery and increase isolation. It's also important to mention the reinforcement of negative stereotypes via the media and press, which often portray those with mental health difficulties as 'violent' or 'dangerous'. Terminology including 'crazy' and 'mad' is often more tolerated than other words would be when connected to other health problems. Structural stigma is defined by Wahl, Link and Rossler as the “Societal level conditions, cultural norms and institutional practices that constrain the opportunities, resources and wellbeing for stigmatized populations.” This means that there are continuous barriers put in the way of people experiencing mental health difficulties from securing education and employment. There is a relatively poor investment in mental health services as opposed to physical health services and the treatment of those in existing employment. What can we do to diminish stigma? Campaigns that encourage social engagement between those with and without mental health difficulties have shown to be more successful than merely providing education in awareness campaigns. It's vital that employees with lived experience of mental health difficulties have a voice in shaping any work-based campaign aimed at reducing stigma. It's also important to invest in targeted interventions, which tackle discrimination and prejudice in the workplace at source, reviewing processes and policies to ensure they're equitable and fair to those experiencing mental health difficulties. Educating line managers is also clearly important, as are routes of accountability for those who flout and undermine attempts of fairness and social justice within the workplace. The current interest and focus on mental health in the workplaces offers many opportunities for us to work together to continually challenge the practices and attitudes that keep stigma alive. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 05, 2019

We've all heard the old cliché that a problem shared is a problem halved. And it's a cliché for a reason. Talking about how we feel isn't always easy, but it's often the first step towards taking control of your wellbeing.  Why do we find it difficult to talk about our emotions? There are many reasons why we might struggle to open up about how we feel. Often we worry about upsetting the people we care about or causing them concern. At other times it's a fear of being judged or seen as weak that prevents us from being honest about how we feel. We might struggle to know how to articulate our emotions or who to talk to. Sometimes it's a combination of all of these things. No wonder many of us are hesitant to talk about our emotions.  What happens when you don't open up? Choosing to keep things bottled up may seem easier in the short term, but it can have negative consequences for your emotional and physical health.  Having something going round and round in your head makes it difficult to be present with the people around you. You're likely to withdraw from situations or conversations that might touch on whatever's causing you to feel the way you do. This creates a distance and misunderstanding between you and your friends, family and colleagues, which can weaken those important relationships.   Similarly, when you're overwhelmed and pre-occupied by your emotions, it's hard to focus and concentrate on other areas of your life such as work or study. You may find that your productivity or quality of work begins to suffer. All of this can lead to an increased level of stress, which can manifest in both behavioural and physical symptoms. Opening up to someone you trust could break this cycle. Why does talking help? Talking things through with someone else can help you see things from a different perspective.  Having to articulate your feelings to someone forces you to take a step back, helping you to see things more clearly. You'll be able to see patterns and have a better understanding of exactly what it is that's bothering you, and what you can do about it. Reaching out to someone you trust and asking them for help will strengthen your relationship with that person as you problem solve together. Even the simple act of being listened to will help you feel supported and less alone. These feelings of connection are essential to our sense of wellbeing. How do I start talking about my emotions? Even if you choose to open up to a close friend or family member, it can still feel awkward at first. Here are a few tips that could help. Pick the right time If you're feeling particularly angry about a situation, it's a good idea to wait until you feel calmer and initial feelings of anger have dissipated. This will make it easier to talk about the real issues clearly, rather than simply venting and lashing out, which can push people away and make you feel worse. If you're feeling nervous about opening up, it can also help to try talking when you're doing something else with that person, such as washing the dishes or walking the dog. This can make it seem less awkward and less of a 'big deal.' Find the right words Use a simple, neutral statement to start such as 'I feel...' or 'My concern is...'. This is less accusatory than saying 'You make me feel...'. It empowers you to take responsibility for your feelings and invites the other person to contribute constructively to the conversation, rather than being defensive. Talk about the positives too Talking about your feelings doesn't have to mean talking about negative things. Try talking to your friends and family about the positive feelings you have; when you're proud of them, grateful or want to share your success with them. Think of it as practice. The more open you are about your positive feelings with the people around you, the easier it will be to talk to them when you're not feeling as good. In addition, taking a moment to recognise the things that make you feel happy or are going well will boost your overall wellbeing, and help to strengthen your relationships. Reach out If you don't feel comfortable talking to a loved one, then talking to someone professional could help. Talking therapies or counselling provide you with a safe space in which to talk through your thoughts and feelings with someone independent and impartial. Counsellors are trained to help you process and explore your feelings and find practical ways of managing them. Counselling involves you being honest, open and participating in the conversation. Ultimately this is empowering although it can seem daunting at first. But there's no rush. The number of sessions you have will depend on your individual circumstances, and your counsellor will work with you to find the best path for you. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jun 24, 2019
Personal Development

If you’re living with stress or depression, or work with someone who is, the Institute’s new guide will help you become better able to promote mental health and wellbeing in your practice, your workplace and yourself. Accountants are in the top four professions to experience depression, according to research conducted by the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. What’s more, researchers in the UK found that eight out of 10 accountants suffer from stress-related problems with 77% of respondents citing long working hours as a cause of concern and 71% describing their work-life balance as poor. This isn’t surprising if you look at your workload and then factor in all the things you’d like to do ‘when you get time’ – not to mention the expectations your colleagues, clients, family and friends have of you. To help you understand the nature of stress and depression, Chartered Accountants Ireland has published A Professional’s Guide to Understanding Stress and Depression, a downloadable PDF that draws on Dr Claire Hayes’ 30 years’ experience as a clinical psychologist and her experience as Clinical Director of Aware. Prevent stress from spiralling into depression The World Health Organisation defines work-related stress as “the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities, and which challenge their ability to cope”. It also defines depression as a common mental disorder, characterised by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration. While a small amount of stress can be a positive, if left unchecked it can spiral into depression. There are three important steps you can take to prevent this: 1. Know when you need support: it’s essential that you know what causes you stress, how you cope with it and what your warning signs are when stress becomes too much to cope with on your own. 2. Ask for support: what is it that makes asking others for support so difficult? It might be that we think that others will judge us harshly. More often, it is because we judge ourselves harshly. We condemn ourselves as inadequate, pathetic and useless if we see ourselves as not coping. We anticipate that other people will judge us too. We compare ourselves to others and decide that other people’s need for support is greater and minimise just how much we’re experiencing. We might convince ourselves that there’s no point in asking for help as no-one else could possibly understand and that, even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to do anything anyway. Despite all this, it’s vital to ask for support. 3. Take support: it can be very tempting to resist other people’s efforts to help us. For a whole range of reasons, we may prefer to disregard appropriate supports, even when we’ve asked for them. Indeed, taking support can be humbling. It may involve an honest conversation with your GP, your life partner, a trusted family member, a professional partner, your boss, your colleagues and perhaps your clients. True support generally focuses on the truth of what’s going on for you. While that can be difficult, it can also be very freeing – particularly when you discover that real support is always there. Seeking support A deep sense of hopelessness can accompany depression. It can be too easy to find evidence that there’s no point, that no-one will understand and even that death might be a preferable option. If anyone believes that things are so bad that they cannot get better, it can be difficult – and at times, impossible – to convince them otherwise. If you really believe that no-one can help you, give someone you trust the benefit of the doubt and tell them what is going on for you. Give them the opportunity to support you and give yourself the gift of taking help. The best person to confide in is usually your GP but if you don’t want to do that, for whatever reason, choose someone who will support you. A Professional’s Guide to Understanding Stress and Depression by Dr Claire Hayes is available for download free of charge. Printed copies are also available at a cost of €5 each, with all profits going to Chartered Accountants Support. 5 ways to cope with stress Gently and deliberately accept your feelings of distress as signs that you are experiencing stress and as invitations to respond in a way that’s helpful. Become aware of your thoughts and classify them as helpful or unhelpful. Explore what underlying core beliefs might be there. Key ones tend to include: ‘I am not good enough’; ‘I must be perfect and never make a mistake’; ‘Other people are better than me’; ‘I can’t trust or rely on other people’. Focus on the actions you take in response to challenging situations and begin to recognise each of these as helpful or unhelpful. Be able to stand back from your particular stressor or stressors to get a sense of perspective and to see how challenging situations can be turned into opportunities to develop resilience.  

Jan 01, 2017