While training and support is very important, it’s also about changing the day-to-day treatment of and attitudes towards mental health at work, and making it a stigma-free topic of conversation
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, 14-18 May, and at Accountancy Age we’re talking about all things mental health and wellbeing, from how to deal with stress in the workplace, to how to ensure you are taking regular breaks from work.
Organisations have a huge part to play in the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees. While the training and support they have in place is very important, it’s also about changing the day-to-day treatment of and attitudes towards mental health at work, and making it a stigma-free topic of conversation.
With this in mind, what are the top accountancy firms doing to support the mental health of their workforce? We delve into the mental health strategies of the Big Four.
KPMG received a silver ranking in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index this year, while Jessica Carmody, chair of the firm’s mental health network, Be Mindful, was awarded the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Employee Champion award.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 also sees KPMG delivering over 50 activities across the UK.
They will be covering a diverse range of topics and be inclusive of people with many different needs, based in many different locations.
KPMG’s Be Mindful network currently has over 600 members across the UK, including senior board members such as Head of People, Anna Purchas and Vice Chair and Partner Sponsor for Be Mindful, Tony Cates, who have raised the issue of how to support the mental health of their colleagues as a boardroom agenda item.
The firm have an impressive range of mental health initiatives, with a view to keep doing more and improving even further.
Their role model videos show senior leaders and colleagues discussing their mental health and the importance of support in the workplace. Employees, senior management, and guest speakers share stories and have discussions around mental health at events, aiming to make it a neutral and stigma-free topic of conversation at work.
KPMG also provides mental health training to people managers to enable them to better support the individuals and teams they head up.
It’s all about encouraging conversation and promoting overall wellbeing. Informal colleague get-togethers help staff develop a strong network of people they can turn to in situations when they need help or advice. The KPMG Gym was also recently launched to encourage health and wellbeing.
EY’s aim is treat mental and physical health on an equal footing. From this belief Thinking Different emerged, EY’s initiative to challenge the taboo surrounding metal health.
The firm are striving to increase awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, to help prevent problems from arising, but more importantly to support their people if and when they do arise.
To this end EY have introduced a wide variety of initiatives around mental health.
Over 700 EY employees have received training as Mental Health First Aiders, to better equip the workforce to identify and help people who are mentally and physically struggling.
On their journey to break down the mental health stigma, EY share stories of their own people, including senior leaders, talking openly about their own experiences of depression, anxiety, and alcoholism.
The EY pathways show employees how to get the support they need for specific health conditions as quickly as possible, including for stress, panic attacks, fatigue, phobias, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or musculoskeletal conditions, for example.
EY’s Mental Health Network, led by employees, acts as a key source of support. It runs a buddy scheme, pairing people who have had similar experiences, for example returning to work following a period of ill health. During Mental Health Week this year, the Network is running a number of internal events across the UK offices, including events about managing stress as this year’s theme.
An internal EY survey revealed that 84% of people said they worked flexibly in some capacity, and 67% believed this improved their wellbeing. To this end, the firm have a clear flexible working culture, empowering people to choose how, where, and when they work.
EY’s working environment also has health and wellbeing in mind since offices feature calm rooms, walking treadmills, standing desks, and well points, where employees are able to review their health statistics.
To help improve people’s knowledge and understanding of mental health, the firm run monthly webinars on wellbeing topics such as sleep and managing anxiety. One of EY’s most recent initiatives is the launch of their Mindfulness Network, helping people to learn and practice mindfulness at work.
Deloitte was awarded a silver status in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index 2018.
Survey results show a proportion of stress-related absence in the workplace has risen from 5% in 2017 to 10% in 2018 but the average sickness days per employee remain stable, implying more people are feeling comfortable to be open about their mental health at work.
Deloitte’s mental health strategy provides its employees with awareness and prevention initiatives, as well as specific support services.
The firm’s partnership with Mind from 2013 to 2016 led to widespread mental health awareness across the organisation, and they continue a close relationship with the charity through One Million Futures.
David Sproul, chief executive of Deloitte UK, signed the Time to Change pledge in October 2013 to show the firm’s commitment to promoting a better understanding of mental health at work, while also offering welfare and support to employees.
Like the other firms, Deloitte place emphasis on conversation and talking openly about mental health. Their “This is me” campaign shared stories from their employees speaking about their mental health issues to remove the stigma and encourage disclosure.
They are also ensuring that senior management get on board. Senior leaders are being openly supportive of mental health, and one in four partners and directors have received training in Mental Health First Aid skills. There are 23 senior leaders who are mental health champions, hosting and supporting awareness workshops and seminars.
Continuing with the firm-wide outlook, Deloitte’s Are you Okay? campaign focused on encouraging mental health conversations at all levels, with an emphasis on looking out for each other. It included sharing tools on how to spot signs, initiate a safe conversation, and signpost to support.
In terms of support available, as well as the trained partners who help over 250 people per year, Deloitte offer an Advice Line, which received over 4,000 calls last year.
There is also online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling support for Deloitte employees, the latter to refer people who don’t have private medical insurance to short-term therapy within 48 hours of first contact.
Similarly to the other Big Four firms, PwC is focusing on first building knowledge in mental health then using this knowledge to have good conversations on the topic.
Raising awareness of mental health within the organisation actually led PwC staff to ask for mental health training. They have trained six people in Mental Health First Aid to be able to deliver the Mental Health First Aid course in house for people working in key roles.
At PwC there are also 13 partners who are mental health advocate each with their own story to tell about mental health, acting as powerful role models encouraging people throughout the firm to be open about their mental health.
Tapping in to the focus on digital, PwC developed a mental health app which people can download on their work iPhones. They are also working closely with the Samaritans and the Lord Mayors Appeal team to pilot and develop mental health and listening skills e-learns to be rolled out following Mental Health Week 2018.
PwC’s overall focuses are on expanding their occupational health provision to include mental health, prioritising young people to ensure they feel able to disclose any mental health conditions, and ensuring information and access to professional support is improved across the organisation