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AI as a force for better mental health

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 27 Jul 2023

Much is made of the impact of artificial intelligence on the role of accountants – but, says Nick Elston, in addition to disrupting work as we know it, AI has a role to play in keeping your mental health on an even keel.

There’s so much negative press about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs – and accountants are no exception. But AI can also be a force for good, particularly when it comes to the intersection of AI and mental health and using emerging technologies to manage your mental wellbeing.

If you think it sounds like a page from a sci-fi novel, buckle up, because we’re about to delve into something that’s becoming an integral part of our reality.

Working closely with those in the world of chartered accountancy, I have seen first-hand the immense pressure that comes with working in the sector. It’s not all balancing books and crunching numbers, right? The responsibility, deadlines and client expectations can often tip the scales towards stress and anxiety.

But what if there was a way to detect these stressors before they got the better of you? This is where AI comes into play. It’s not just about robots and smart homes – AI is now making strides in the mental health arena, picking up patterns and signals that we humans might gloss over. 

These savvy algorithms can crunch more than just numbers. They’re combing through data from social media, health records, surveys and more to provide early warning signs of mental health issues. That’s some heavy-duty pattern spotting, even for the most meticulous accountant.

AI is not stopping there. It’s stepping up and offering on-the-go support for mental health. Imagine mood-tracking apps, mental health chatbots, even virtual reality therapy – all just a tap away on your smartphone. 

However, don’t mistake these as substitutes for those one-on-one chats with a therapist or a counsellor. In my opinion, these AI tools serve as handy extras, equipping us to better manage our mental health daily.

So, in a world where AI seems like it’s taking over everything, let’s take a step back. It’s important to remember that AI, as clever as it may be, is not the equivalent of genuine, human professional help. If you’re feeling the pressure, or if the numbers are starting to blur, reach out. Seek help from a professional, a trusted friend, a loved one. AI can be a supportive ally, but it should not, and cannot, be your sole confidant.

Here’s the message, folks…

  • AI can spot early warning signs of mental health issues by analysing masses of data.
  • Apps and chatbots powered by AI can provide everyday support for managing our mental health.
  • AI is a helpful tool, but it can never replace the importance of professional advice and support.

What does that mean for you?

Embrace AI as part of your mental health toolkit, but don’t put all your eggs in this high-tech basket. Be smart, be thoughtful and never underestimate the power of reaching out to a professional.

Add AI to your ‘playbook’ – you accountants out there, you know how important it is to have a contingency plan.

Remember, we’ve got an arsenal of tools at our disposal – it’s about using the right one at the right time.

Nick Elston

Nick Elston is a speaker on the lived experience of mental health. Read more articles from Nick.

Mental health & wellbeing

ICAEW works with CABA to promote the mental health of chartered accountants and their families. Take a look through these articles, guides, webinars, videos and events.

ICAEW mental health wellbeing team bonding communication

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