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The Institute of Public Accountants has urged accountants to initiate conversations with their clients who own small businesses as it ramps up its research on mental health and wellbeing.
Today marks R U OK? Day, run by the eponymous charity, aimed at tackling the issue of suicide.
The campaign aims to start a conversation around mental health and wellbeing in a bid to reduce the number of suicides in Australia.
The mental health of small business owners have come into focus for the IPA as it works on its upcoming Small Business White Paper, with a series of roadshows across Australia confirming the need for greater research into the issue.
As such, the IPA has commissioned a survey to build a body of evidence around the prevalence of mental health issues in the small business community.
“We need to build a body of evidence around it to inform the research and once we get that evidence base, we can use that to build strategies and support frameworks around accountants who have been providing those services to clients,” said IPA chief executive Andrew Conway.
“It’s fair to say when you do your accounting degree and your qualification with your professional body, you don’t necessarily cover issues of clients at risk or clients in crisis and we want to make sure that accountants are equipped with those skills to manage those situations in practice that are so regularly occurring.
“The survey is the first step and we will be looking to build up into a more detailed academic-based research model that will inform the design of those strategies.”
In urging accountants to get their clients to complete the survey, Mr Conway also believes it is an opportunity for professionals to check in on their clients and ensure their concerns are addressed.
“On R U OK? Day, it’s a good day to be asking small business owners ‘are you ok small business?’ and we need to be extending that conversation because too often we just assume that things are ok for small business owners and we know they have a lot riding on the success of their business, whether it is the security of their family home or just making ends meet to put food on the table,” he added.