The terms stress and anxiety tend to be used interchangeably, but leading health professionals say there is a clear distinction between the two. Understanding how one condition can lead to the other can help you to manage the risk factors and know when to seek advice on improving your overall mental health and wellbeing.
Murray Kirkwood, a clinical psychologist working with dedicated online medical practice PSYCH2U, defines stress as a “psychological reaction to how much we’ve got going on in our lives”.
“Accountants have certainly experienced an increase in stress levels since the onset of the pandemic,” says Kirkwood. “At the best of times, we know that finances are the leading cause of worry among Australians, and accountants are exposed to this through their clients every day. It’s hard to leave the effects of that stress at work – it creeps into their personal lives.
“Accountants have certainly experienced an increase in stress levels since the onset of the pandemic.”
“Due to COVID-related issues, stressors faced by accountants have compounded, both in volume and complexity. More than ever, a lot of businesses have relied on their accountants for support – financial and otherwise.”
Stress is a leading cause of anxiety
“Anxiety is about an intolerance of uncertainty, a fear for what the future holds,” says Kirkwood. “People’s anxiety is influenced by the volume and complexity of their stressors. It’s often the case that those who face a greater complexity and volume of stressors experience a more complex and severe level of anxiety. In fact, stress is one of the most underestimated causes of a range of psychological variables that lead people to seek therapy.”
Kirkwood explains that telehealth proved a vital means of delivering treatment for conditions such as anxiety during the pandemic. Despite having left lockdown restrictions long ago, many people are continuing to choose telehealth over face-to-face therapy.
“As a method of delivery, telehealth was underutilised for a long time, but COVID lockdowns really changed that,” says Kirkwood. “One of the clear initial benefits is the fact that people can engage in therapy, and discuss what can often be challenging subjects, from the privacy, comfort and familiarity of their own home.”
Some health insurance policies may help provide access to telehealth. In partnership with PSYCH2U, HCF offers eligible members* easier access to online video consultations with a psychologist and navigation to other digital and telehealth mental wellbeing support as needed.
As Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund, HCF is committed to showing members an uncommon level of care by developing a holistic mental health and wellbeing program with access to a range of options to suit different needs.
“We know that accountants were ‘spinning more plates’ than usual throughout the pandemic,” says Kirkwood. “It’s so important for people to seek help in managing their mental health in whatever way works best for them.”
If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, and need to speak to someone now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Find out more:
HCF is the Australian health insurance partner of the CA ANZ Member Benefits Program and provides exclusive benefits to CA ANZ members. To find out more visit corporate.hcf.com.au/charteredaccountants
*Must have HCF gold level hospital cover for at least 2 months. Eligibility is based on clinical need as assessed by PSYCH2U.