An Evolving Conversation About Mental Health Within the Profession



At the start of 2020, Mark J. Cowan, CPA, J.D. spoke out to the Journal of Accountancy about his experiences with depression and the epidemic of silence, stoicism and stigma associated with mental illness which, at the time, pervaded the industry. Discussion and study of depression within the accounting industry, however, was practically nonexistent1.

Now, in a world taken over by a global health crisis and on the other side of an entire summer of economic shutdowns, stay-at-home orders and remote working environments, mental health appears to be shedding much of that stigma. In accounting specifically, there is a growing sense of awareness and acceptance regarding mental health within the industry and leaders the world over are discussing how to prioritize mental health.

In Australia, for example, a new government supported program will grant $2.4 million to Deakin University’s Small-Medium Enterprise (SME) Research Centre to upskill more than 5,000 accountants in mental health first aid so they can better assist their SME clients, according to Smart Company. CEO of CPA Australia, Andrew Hunter commented, “Accountants have played a frontline role in helping individuals and businesses manage the economic fallout, and this has put them under enormous pressure. Mental health is a whole-of-industry issue and, more so than ever before, needs a collective approach which supports all our members2.”

While there isn’t currently a comparable push to specifically address the issue of mental health within the U.S. accounting industry, the fact that other nations are making it a frontline concern has positive implications all the same. Major accounting news sources, for instance, have been homing in on mental health, from publishing strategies for mitigating stress in high-tension situations to discussing how leaders can tactfully approach the subject of mental health with employees.

As we continue our journey into destigmatizing mental health within the profession, the MICPA is proud to present a series of mental health resources with the goal of not only raising awareness but to provide real support to members, accounting professionals and their clients. As 2021 approaches, bringing hopes of a return to in-person operations and some sense of normalcy amid COVID-19 vaccine developments, we want to ensure that the new normal includes a better understanding of mental health and a profession that is open and receptive to meeting the needs of its participants.


  1. Cowan, Mark J. “Depression and the CPA.” Journal of Accountancy. 1 Feb. 2020. Accessed on 30 Nov. 2020.
  2. Maskiell, Lois. “Government Announces $2.24 Million Grant Program to Upskill 5,000 Accountant in Mental Health Support.” Smart Company. 9 Nov. 2020. Accessed on 30 Nov. 2020.

Source: MICPA

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