The Institute of Public Accountants has highlighted the lack of preparedness from advisers in looking for the signs of mental ill-health from small business clients.
In a recently released white paper, IPA chief executive Andrew Conway said it spends a great deal of time educating accountants and other advisers about the technical elements of small business ownership.
However, advisers haven’t been prepared to look for the signs of mental ill-health or to promote a greater sense of personal wellbeing.
Compared with the IPA’s first small business white paper released in 2015, Mr Conway noted that one of the staggering changes in the dialogue it has had with small businesses across Australia was how frequently it heard the issue of mental health raised.
He said the heightened levels of stress experienced by small business owners has been attributed to a range of work and non-work factors, including long working hours, financial pressures, isolation, the obligation to work when sick, family and relationship problems, and work-family/life conflict.
As a result, Mr Conway said the IPA seeks to generate a new level of dialogue in relation to the importance of mental health and the wellbeing of small business owners and their advisers.
“The prevalence of mental ill-health among small business owners and operators, particularly in regional areas, has prompted an urgent review of the body of evidence in this space,” Mr Conway said.
“Indeed, the role of accountants is evolving towards a greater emphasis on business mentorship and guidance. There are, therefore, ample opportunities for integrating mental health promotion messages with more holistic business and financial planning services.”
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