A portrait of Michel Rodrigue, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada
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Accounting

How mental health affects the bottom line for CPAs

While the work of CPAs can contribute to a healthier space, the mental wellbeing of these professionals often takes a back seat in the fast-paced world of accounting and finance.

While the work of CPAs can contribute to a healthier space, the mental wellbeing of these professionals often takes a back seat in the fast-paced world of accounting and finance.   

Michel Rodrigue, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and a CPA himself, believes it’s important to prioritize mental health awareness within the CPA community. “There's the overall impact on mental health, but there's also the direct impact week after week on our economy,” Rodrigue says. The cost of mental illness to the economy is estimated at over $50 billion annually indirectly through sick days, reduced productivity and directly through disability claims, income support and health care costs. “We've got half a million people not showing up to work because they have a mental health problem or illness,” Rodrigue adds, “It’s quite impactful.” 

A 2021 study of accountants revealed that over half of the survey’s respondents struggled with mental health due to long working hours and demanding deadlines.  

To combat this issue, Rodrigue advocates for implementing the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety, commissioned by the MHCC. This framework consists of 13 psychosocial factors (including workload management and clear leadership and expectations) that, when addressed, can contribute to a psychologically healthy workplace. “There’s a way for us to create workplaces where people can thrive and where you would put elements in place so that people can start to have conversations about mental health, unencumbered by stigma,” Rodrigue says. “And once you start doing that, it's no longer a career limiting move to say I've been unwell and to seek help.” 

A 2019 Deloitte study further emphasizes the need for a mental wellness program. It showed that for every dollar invested in mental health initiatives in a workplace, there’s an observed return, with visible improvements in areas like employee productivity, reduced absenteeism and heightened levels of engagement. With evidence of the financial viability of mental health initiatives, MHCC has focused efforts to increase the quality of these services. Their National Mental Health App Assessment Framework is designed to evaluate the rapidly growing number of mental health apps. This framework aims to ensure that individuals can access validated and evidence-informed resources.  

Rodrigue hopes MHCC can help create guidance on implementing mental health initiatives within the CPA community. He also emphasizes the potential for CPAs to become agents for this change. “I commend CPAs for having given so much to ensure financial literacy becoming widespread. MHCC is trying to achieve the same with mental health literacy—not only enhancing the wellbeing of the workforce but also positively impacting the bottom line.” 

Photo credit: Submitted