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How Can We support the Mental Health of officers in s114 Authorities?

The mental resilience of finance officers is critical given where we currently are.

As a Peer Support group mental health professional I know this to be the case.

So what can we do?

Finance officers in local authorities subject to Section 114 notices may experience significant mental health effects due to the challenging and high-pressure nature of their roles. Section 114 notices are issued when a local authority is unable to balance its budget, signifying a financial crisis. Here are some potential mental health effects and ways to help these officers:

Stress and Anxiety: Finance officers may face extreme stress and anxiety due to the financial crisis, the need to make difficult decisions, and the fear of potential job cuts or backlash from the community or general public.

Depression: Prolonged financial crises can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression among finance officers, especially if they perceive that their efforts are not making a difference.

Burnout: The workload and pressure on finance officers can lead to burnout, with long hours, tight deadlines, and constant scrutiny taking a toll on their mental well-being.

Isolation: The nature of their work may lead to isolation, as they may feel they cannot discuss the financial crisis openly or seek support from colleagues.

To help finance officers in such situations:

Mental Health Support: Local authorities and CIPFA should prioritize mental health support services, such as counseling and access to employee assistance programs, to help officers cope with stress and anxiety.

Clear Communication: Transparent and regular communication with finance officers about the situation and the steps being taken to cope with it can reduce uncertainty and anxiety.

Workload Management: Efforts should be made to manage workloads, set realistic expectations, and provide resources to prevent burnout.

Training and Development: Offer free training and professional development opportunities to help finance officers build resilience and adapt to challenging financial situations.

Peer Support: Encourage peer support networks or mentorship programs within the organization so finance officers can share experiences and coping strategies.

Recognition and Appreciation: Recognize the hard work and dedication of finance officers, which can boost morale and motivation.

Employee Assistance Programs: Ensure that finance officers have access to confidential counseling and mental health services through employee assistance programs.

External Assistance: If necessary, consider seeking external financial experts or consultants to support the finance team during the crisis, relieving some of the pressure on internal staff.

Supporting the mental health of finance officers during financial crises is crucial not only for their well-being but also for the effective management of local authorities and the well being of communities.

Such mental health pressures on finance officers must never be underestimated.

We must help them now and CIPFA has a clear role in this!

Let's do it.

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