World Mental Health Day: ‘Being a husband, father and partner comes with its challenges’

World Mental Health Day: 'Being a husband, father and partner comes with its challenges'

As we mark World Mental Health Day 2018, Jon Gilpin, audit partner at BDO in the Midlands, talks about why mental health and wellbeing are firmly on his agenda

Jon Gilpin, partner, BDO

At the time of starting my partnership at BDO, I was about to relocate my wife and three-year-old son Charlie to Birmingham while expecting our second child just a few months later. As a result of our property-buying process, I ended up commuting from Milton Keynes to Birmingham for three months. It is fair to say this was a challenging and stressful time and I was well aware of how important it was to look after my own mental health and wellbeing to ensure that I did a good job both in and outside of work.

Being a husband, father and partner comes with its challenges and every individual manages these differently. There are times when I have to bring work home or think about work when I am spending time with my family, but for me the weekends are sacred. It is rare for me to spend my weekends working; if that means I choose to work longer hour’s mid-week, that’s fine. It’s about balance and, importantly, it’s about what works for me.

Being a husband, father and partner comes with its challenges and every individual manages these differently.

The same goes for holidays. I like to manage my clients’ and colleagues’ expectations so I ensure they know well in advance that I will be out of the office. However, in today’s digital age where emails are at our fingertips, I have to be quite strict with myself to switch off fully when I’m on leave.

In a client-facing industry that’s highly regulated and in a role that can often involve tight deadlines, life as an auditor can be stressful at times.

When I started out in the profession 20 years ago, employers were more concerned with the workload of individuals rather than how their people are feeling. I believe accountancy as an industry has improved leaps and bounds. I am proud of the importance large firms like ours put on mental health and wellbeing.

In my first week at BDO, I attended the annual Midlands partner ‘away day’ that involved a half day workshop called ‘performance under pressure’. It was such an important and valuable training session, I decided I wanted to get more involved with our office’s wellbeing programme. I now head up our local mental health and wellbeing strategy and work closely with our ‘wellbeing champions’ to ensure we offer the best possible working experience for our colleagues.

I believe accountancy as an industry has improved leaps and bounds.

Recently I decided to host the ‘performance under pressure’ training for other colleagues in the Midlands. The session was a success but, as I said to those taking part, the most important part of the training is what comes after it. People need to take their wellbeing seriously; everyone is different, they deal with pressure and stress in their own unique way and they need to work out what’s best for them. I am extremely grateful I work for a firm that gives us the tools and support to help us do exactly that.

There is still a long way to go with regards to supporting mental health in the workplace and in society in general, but with approximately one in four people in the UK likely to experience a mental health problem each year (according to MIND), I am glad to have mental health and wellbeing placed firmly on both my own and the firm’s agenda.

 

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