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KPMG tackles workplace mental health awareness

A team of young professionals from KPMG held a week-long event at the firm’s offices across the island of Ireland to raise awareness about mental health in the workplace.

The event, which took place simultaneously in Belfast, Galway, Cork and Dublin was organised by the winners of KPMG’s annual competition Project Bright which provides an opportunity for young people from within the firm to come up with ideas to address social and environmental needs.

It saw experts from across the mental health field present to employees from each office with the aim of providing advice on dealing with mental health issues.

Speakers at the Belfast office included Yellow Door director Andrew Dougan, who led a session on “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind”; Dympna Hannon from the Hannon Clinic who focused on mental health in the world of professional services and Jessica Robinson from Aware NI who talked about coping and recognising depression in the workplace.

Organising the project was the winning team called “Sonas” – an Irish word which translates as “happiness” – the team is made up of young professionals from both the Belfast and Dublin KPMG offices who won the eighth annual Project Bright competition as one of 12 entries across the firm. The Belfast team consisted of Karen Wray, Caolan Byrne, Ciara Maguire and Lauren Dwyer.

John Hansen, Partner in Charge of KPMG in Northern Ireland, said: “Awareness and understanding of mental health is hugely important for a firm such as KPMG and something which we place at the heart of the organisation. The events held over the course of the week have helped to stir further conversations around the topic and has worked in tandem with our goal of providing a supportive network for all our employees and the means to enjoy good mental health.

“Congratulations to the Sonas team for organising such a great event and thank you to the experts for sharing their insights.”

Caolan Byrne, a member of the Sonas team based at KPMG’s Belfast office, said: “Mental health issues are real, affecting three in every 10 employees in any given year in Northern Ireland, so tackling the subject through an event like this was hugely beneficial. The speakers helped give an expert insight into how to cope with the stresses we all face in the modern workplace but, as importantly, the event has brought the conversation about mental health very much to the fore.”

Attendees were given goodie bags to take home and the week’s events were followed by a walk to Belfast’s Cavehill as a change of pace from talks and demonstrations. Given the mental and physical benefits of exercise and fresh air, the “wellness wanderers” hope to continue the walking group to encourage individuals to socialise as well as to promote health.

Following the success of the inaugural event, Sonas hopes to continue to grow in the coming years, with plans to continue both the walking group and annual in-office events, and to work with KPMG’s Young Professionals network.

Sonas will now head to London to represent the firm in the One Young World conference in October 2019, a summit which identifies, promotes and connects the world’s more impactful young leaders.