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Who will I talk to?

You may be wondering why an article of this nature is appearing on the website or social media profile of an accounting firm. Well, this week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and to help raise awareness I decided to get involved and share something on this very issue.

Every Monday, I will post a #MondayMotivation post on our business social media platforms. Part of the reason I do this is to share something that will help small business owners and other advisors to get revitalised, focused, to help them to look at things a little differently, all with the hope that it will help improve their business and ultimately their lives.

Another reason is to help give me a boost and keep me focused on my own targets and goals.

But there is another reason. And that’s because I know how it feels when things get tough, when life doesn’t seem worth the hassle, when you feel that your thoughts are spinning so fast that maybe ramming your head through a door might help. Your mind feels like a car on a frozen lake, spinning out of control, no way of stopping or steering, facing the inevitable plunge through the ice into the abyss………..

Yes, I have suffered from the over-stigmatised ‘mental health’ problems. Anxiety and depression, going back to my childhood and no doubt brought about by a difficult family life. Some people would say this was linked to my mother’s alcoholism. I see it now very differently. Alcohol was her medicine for loneliness, sadness and lack of love. Unfortunately it became the only constant on her life. She passed away 13 years ago, her body finally giving in to the ravage of extreme vodka consumption. In truth it was her mind that overcome her.

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve come to realise the battles I’ve been fighting in my mind for decades. Having two little girls now makes life so much more meaningful, but brings with it more worries of failure and letting them down.

Starting and running my own business certainly added to the mix, bringing more pressure upon me, a feeling that more and more weight was on my shoulders. The ability to be logical in these circumstances tends to go further from your grasp.

Another thing I see differently is the issue of mental health. I actually don’t like the phrase ‘mental health’ and feel it’s part of the reason why many people, especially men aged 20 to 45, don’t speak up enough.

Men in this age range are either still finding their way in life, fitting in with their peers, or they see themselves as breadwinners, the person who has to be strong, reliable etc…..

Men will also be more likely to avoid self-help, group help or medication when it comes to ‘not being OK’. Many old traditional views amongst men, such as “man up”, are still too common in today’s world.

But whilst we continue to fail to “man up”, lives are being lost. Moreso in Northern Ireland where we find ourselves in a post-conflict period, an economy heavily reliant on public sector but where unemployment is high and poverty is rife. I know a few people personally who are no longer with us having lost their battle with their own mind.

Does all of this have anything to do with business tips or advice?

Well, as the owner of accounting firm, I have personal experience of how running a business can be tough, and also see the pressure other small business owners face. But I now tend to wonder a bit more about what else is bubbling under the surface, and the questions I ask my clients aims to find out what else is happening in their personal life that may be affecting their business outlook.

At the end of the day, our clients are people first, clients second. Their personal lives come first and the business second. Both are inseparable and both aspects must be understood. My own mental battles have made me aware that it’s important to recognise where you’re at, accept it, change it whatever way you can. Part of that way is by talking to someone, to anyone, and the sooner the better.

My “why” in business is to help clients #MakeMoreMoney #SaveTime #BetterSystems #PeaceOfMind. I can’t understate how vital the last of these is……..

You get what you focus on and the questions you ask yourself will deliver the answers………so take care with what you focus on, and ask yourself the right questions. For example, instead of “What am I going to do” why not ask yourself “How can I fix this and move forward?”

In business, don’t be afraid to share with your peers, your networks, and know that help and advice is there for you for any situation, no matter how bad it seems.

Maybe the best question to ask this week, if you need to, is “Who will I talk to?” Talking can be just enough to lighten your mind for a few precious minutes to bring a little peace to the madness. Remember, there is always another option, you just can’t see it yet…….

Kieran Phelan FCA

Founder of Cloud 360 Accounting


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