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Booze and drug helpline needed

The accountancy profession has failed to provide health support services to its members despite 'alarming' evidence of stress, alcohol, suicide and drug-related problems, the ICAEW council heard today.

Jerom‚ Freedman, president of the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA), said accounting institutes had so far failed to follow the example of other professions by providing support.

Announcing plans for a new help line to address the problem, he quoted research by the national statistics office and health and safety executive which found that:

  • A quarter – or more than 30,000 – institute members will have to take some time off work due to stress or stress-related matters.
  • One third – or more than 40,000 – will drink to excess and 8,500 are expected to drink so much they will have medical and work problems.
  • Some 15,000 members, particularly in the younger age group, will have misused drugs in the last year.
  • Suicide rates among male accountants are 10% above national average in the UK. Female accountants appear to have three times the national average suicide rate for women.

Freedman said the help line, to be called You Count, would help accountants and their families to deal with these health hazards.

Other problems to be confronted in future included gambling, debt and general welfare advice.

He appealed for volunteers who had survived stress, drink or drugs problems to help by manning the lines.

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