Insolvency Practitioners: Supporting Mental Health for Best Outcomes – Insolvency/Bankruptcy/Restructuring


Australia: Insolvency Practitioners: Supporting Mental Health for Best Outcomes

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Getting the best results for all stakeholders doesn’t just require a specialized accounting skill set; training and experience in managing the mental health implications of insolvency situations is also essential for insolvency professionals.

Every day, in our role as liquidators and trustees in bankruptcy, we interact with stakeholders who are going through difficult and very stressful situations such as business failures, job losses, debtors who lose their homes, family and relational; and creditors who may face financial hardship due to non-collection of a debt owed by an insolvent person/entity.

About 20% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 experience some form of common mental illness in a year. CA ANZ cites that “In 2020, almost one in three small business owners were diagnosed with anxiety, depression, stress or related mental health issues.
1 “.

The term “mental health problem” refers to both mental illnesses and symptoms of mental illnesses that are not serious enough to warrant a diagnosis of mental illness.

Numerous studies identify a cyclical link between financial difficulties and mental health problems. Financial difficulties or difficulty repaying debts often leads to increased stress, which can affect mental health and lead to depression and/or anxiety. On the other hand, people with mental health issues find it difficult to manage their financial affairs due to a lack of energy, inability to concentrate, or feelings of being overwhelmed. . Intrinsically, this often leads to poor financial decisions.

At Worrells, we take the time to care about people’s mental health and well-being in our business and offer support where possible. Several of our staff, including myself, have participated in ‘Counting on U’, a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training program run by Deakin University and relationship building. It is designed to help finance professionals identify when stakeholders may be suffering from mental health issues and how to confidently help them access the mental health resources they need.

Some of my main takeaways from the program were:

  • Mental health first aid can be just as important as medical first aid and can potentially save someone’s life. When you are concerned about the mental health of your client, colleague or other stakeholder, offer your support.

  • Mental health issues are common and likely to occur in the lifetime of most people or those close to them.

  • Signs and symptoms that a person may be experiencing mental health issues can be physical (fatigue, lack of energy, loss of appetite) and behavioral (loss of motivation, difficulty concentrating or making decisions). It is important to be aware of this and to offer support to anyone struggling with a mental health problem.

  • When providing mental health support, it is important to first listen with empathy and communicate without judgment before offering options and resources. If they feel heard and understood, they are more likely to accept support and information.

  • Support can take many forms: listening, showing empathy and providing hope, following up to check them out, helping with specific tasks, or providing information about professional help and other support options available.

  • A GP is usually the first point of call when professional help is needed, but it may also be appropriate to contact mental health support/crisis organizations (see below) .

I am grateful for the skills and knowledge I gained by completing this program and proud to be recognized as a Certified Mental Health First Aider. As trustees in bankruptcy, we are sometimes faced with the terrible task of evicting someone from their home, as a very last resort. During a recent eviction, I tapped into my new PSSM toolkit to guide a debtor through this process. A few weeks later, the debtor called me to thank me for the compassion and support he had been given throughout the process and to tell me that his anxiety and mental health issues had in fact improved.

In a post-pandemic world characterized by unprecedented business interruptions, shutdowns, workforce disruptions, job losses and where insolvencies are expected to increase, one can only assume that the number of stakeholders in need of mental health support will be higher than ever.

I strongly encourage other finance professionals to consider this program. As finance professionals have worked frantically over the past two years to cope with legislative changes and help clients access government financial support throughout the pandemic, it is essential to invest time in improving their mental health skills. It is these finance professionals who are on the front lines of uncovering financial stress who need to confidently respond to clients with mental health issues and be aware of the mental health support services available to small business owners and other stakeholders.

For more information on the Counting on U program or any insolvency matters, please do not hesitate to contact your local Worrells manager or manager. We are here to help you as much as we can.

Mental health support/crisis organisations:

beyond the blue

safety rope

Head space

black dog institute

Related Articles:

Mental Health and Decision Making of Business Owners

Understand how chronic stress and business financial challenges affect people

Mental health and debt issues

Bankruptcy: it’s good for your health



The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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