HKA supports World Mental Health Day 2023

We recognise the devastating toll mental health issues can put on those who suffer and their loved ones. HKA is committed to doing its part in erasing the stigma and misunderstandings surrounding mental health issues by supporting mental health initiatives, promoting conversation and transparency.

Hear from some of our colleagues who have shared some of the ways they look after and support their mental health, as well as share their tips for others.

Richard Aindow, Partner, Group Finance Director
Daresbury, United Kingdom

Many of us lead busy lives and work in a high-pressure environment, which can make it particularly difficult to be able to switch off. We can fall into the trap of letting work take over our personal lives, which can then start impacting on our mental health as well as our physical health. Whatever our role in the business, we all face challenges professionally and personally on a daily basis, and it’s vital that we take the time to focus on our mental health, as it’s very easy to ignore this given everything else we have going on.

For me, it’s all about making time to do what you enjoy and not feeling guilty about taking time away from work or not responding to emails within a minute of them landing in your inbox!

I’m lucky enough to have a season ticket at Liverpool FC, so that’s a great escape for me – to spend a day socialising with friends from all different backgrounds, talking nonsense and enjoying the football! I also have a 2 ½ year old niece and try to create as much time as possible to spend with her (again, largely talking nonsense!). All of this helps me realise what the really important things in life are: friends and family. It really helps me switch off from the pressures of work.

Exercise is also a great way to improve physical and mental health;

even doing something for just 20 minutes can make a real difference. As the saying goes, you never regret a workout!

It’s also important to talk about any issues you might be facing. It’s great that HKA supports initiatives such as World Mental Health Day, and it’s all part of removing any stigma around mental health issues. You never know what someone might be going through, and even the most outgoing and happy person may have some real challenges they are trying to hide, so it’s really important to reach out to people and check in on them. Just a simple “How are you?” if you haven’t heard from someone for a while may be all it needs to allow that person to open up and to know that they have someone there to support them if needed.

Kayla Begg, Proposal & Marketing Manager
Los Angeles, California, United States

To be honest, I’m not super comfortable publicly admitting that I have mental health challenges, including adjustment disorder and chronic anxiety. But I think it’s more important to destigmatize mental health care, especially in the workplace. Most people will face some kind of mental health issue at some point in their lives, and hopefully, the more we talk about this, the more people will feel comfortable pursuing treatment options that could help them.

Therapy has been the most beneficial thing I’ve done so far for my mental health. The whole process has helped me build tools to manage my chronic anxiety, process emotional challenges and traumas, and gain a deeper understanding of myself. The improvement in my mental health has been tremendous since I started, and I highly

encourage anyone who is thinking about therapy to try it, even if they aren’t totally sure if they need it or not. You might be surprised. Self-care rituals have also become a foundational piece of my mental health care practice. Mental health doesn’t exist in a separate box from my physical health, and a daily walk before or after work allows me to temporarily detach from stress in my professional or personal life. Creating bedtime routines and cues helps me ‘turn my brain off’ so I can fall asleep more easily. I also journal quite often, which helps me get my thoughts out of my head and reduce rumination and cyclical thinking. Everyone’s mental health care needs and practices will be as different and unique as they are, and it’s important to try different methods and approaches to address your specific needs.

Mark Castell, Partner
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

I have played various sports throughout my childhood and adult life and enjoyed the camaraderie, the competition, and the physical health benefits. Over the years, however, I have increasingly recognised that it has also brought mental health benefits.

For the last 15 years, my main sporting activity has been golf. Whilst playing can be highly frustrating as our expectations are often more significant than our ability, it provides me valuable time away from work pressures, enjoying the company of other like-minded people in the fresh air and sunshine. I have learnt to embrace the challenge of the sport without putting too much pressure on myself by welcoming the need for focus, concentration, and strategic thinking within a serene landscape. The photograph shows the natural beauty of a course on the south coast of Ireland.

I find that golf and mental well-being share a harmonious relationship.

Old Head Golf Links, Ireland

The environment is conducive to reducing stress and enhancing mental health. Focusing on trying to get a little white ball into a hole in the ground frees up my mind of daily tasks or concerns. The sport has enabled me to foster valuable friendships and shared experiences and enhance my cognitive skills and resilience.

To recognise World Mental Health Day, HKA is pleased to support and donate to World Federation for Mental Health, National Alliance on Mental Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Full Stop Australia, The Befrienders KL, and Scottish Association for Mental Health.

Morgan Kung, Consultant
Hong Kong SAR, China

How I look after my mental health

I enjoy visiting the pet-friendly café during the weekend. Interacting with animals gives me a sense of companionship and connection, which helps relieve my stress. Studies also proved that pets could have a beneficial effect on mental health by reducing the levels of the stress hormone in our bodies. However, keeping a pet might not be easy as it requires lots of time and effort. Instead, I choose to keep houseplants at home and in the office. Like animals, having houseplants allows me to take care of another living organism, creating a sense of connectedness that alleviates feelings of loneliness.

Living in Hong Kong (known as concrete jungle), where access to public green spaces is often limited. Houseplants can remind me of the positive experiences I’ve had in nature, which boosts my mood. Nurturing plants is like a mindful exercise and allows me to have some quiet time to feel relaxed and calm. I like watering my plant when taking a break at work; it helps refresh my mind and distract me from any negative thoughts that I have.

Mental health tips

Stay connected

Spending quality time with friends or family can stop us from feeling isolated as well as improving our mental health. The best way to maintain our social connections will undoubtedly be meeting in person, but it may not always be possible due to location and time zone differences. However, we can always make use of technology and stay connected with people through phone calls, video chats or even text messages.

Friends not only provide us with company to overcome loneliness but also give us emotional support when we need it. It is important to talk to someone when we are struggling. Friends and family can provide us with a safe space where we can let down our guard and talk about how we are feeling without the fear of judgment and the need of having to explain ourselves.

Stay active

Exposure to stress in the long term can put us at higher risk of mental health illness, including depression and anxiety. Physical activities can help mitigate the negative effects of stress and improve our resiliency against stress. Studies show that people can experience lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, even just having short bursts of exercise.

Routine exercise is as powerful as antidepressants in treating anxiety and mood disorders. Exercise can improve our mental health by allowing our brain to release “feel-good hormones” like endorphins and serotonin that help improve our mood. We can also combine our exercise routine with other evidence-based practices such as meditation. Training our ability to focus on the present allows us to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Norah Mudau, Senior Business Support Administrator
Johannesburg, South Africa

My name is Norah Mudau, and I am a single mother of two beautiful girls, 17 and eight years old. Mental health problems can happen to anybody, as we all feel tired, stressed, and not coping at times. I have learned to be honest with myself, admit when it gets too much, and find ways to cope that work for me. I talk to people I trust so that the situation will not get out of hand. I sit back and listen to my little one read for me; it brings me joy and closes off negative thoughts and what happened during the day. She tops it up with storytelling or a song about events that happened during the day at school and aftercare. I get to hear who said and did what. It always ends with a lot of laughter, which works for me. And it is amazing how refreshing and relaxing that is for me.

If we have time on Saturdays, we go on outings with the girls (most of the time, at a park near where we stay), and the kids play while I sit on the bench. I always get a chance to speak to a stranger. The conversation may be about kids or any news of interest while we watch the kids play, and we cheer while they run or rush to queue for a slide, and that helps to take a break and my mind off things.

Sundays are always the best; we do photoshoots anywhere we find interesting. I always take at least a one hour nap on Sunday to prepare for the week ahead. Always do what works best for you and the little things that bring joy and make you feel good.

If you feel distressed, please speak with someone and be honest with yourself. If you are able to help yourself, do what works for you. What works for others may serve as guidelines, but do what will help you, depending on your situation. Accept who you are and seek professional help if you need to.

Colleagues, let us continue to be kind and considerate. If you have a chance, ask how others are doing sincerely and support them in any way you can. Always remember that some situations need a professional or help from someone experienced. And always keep in touch, that will mean a great deal to the other person.

Olesya Prantyuk, Director
London, United Kingdom

I am glad we are looking into mental health and that the firm supports it. A couple of years ago, HKA trained a group of volunteers – including myself – to become Metal Health First Aiders. It was great to see colleagues express genuine interest and fully commit their time and effort to the training (which, of course, competes with chargeable work). I think we have real awareness of mental health continuum across our team.

I am learning to look after my mental health daily, and it looks different every day. I know some things that certainly work for me (yoga, hot bath, sketching, reading a good non-fiction book). However, the days my mental health needs love the most are the ones when I find doing anything from my list the hardest. Instead, I let myself do the smallest thing that I have the energy to do, trying to let go of any expectation of my feeling going away: a walk, a break for a cup of tea, a hug or stroking my dog, Pippa. Pippa “works” from home with me, and her quiet presence (well, she snores loudly even with her eyes open, so not that quiet) is something I take for granted. But whatever it is I do, it is a gift and not a transaction; there is no agenda, and I offer my full presence.


Here are three things that I continue learning and practicing that others may find useful:

  • Letting go of an expectation to be “good”/“on it”/“100% of everything” every day, each and every 24 hours.  
  • Noticing the moments when I do not feel great and staying curious (and kind) about them rather than drowning them in busyness.  
  • Connecting with people, asking for support when you need it, and giving it when you notice others need it. It may feel in the moment that our experiences are unique; it is just us, but they never are. And no one can or should go through some things on their own. As one of my favourite authors, Brene Brown, writes, “Love is the last thing we need to ration in this world”.

Rey Saballa, Lead Consultant
Sydney, Australia

When my son was diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) at age four and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and anxiety at age seven, these were challenging times for me, and I felt sad, worried, and overwhelmed. I had trouble sleeping and concentrating, and my mental health suffered.

Initially, I tried to ignore my symptoms, but I soon realized that they were not going to go away on their own. I had to accept that I was struggling and take steps to help myself.

One of the most helpful things I did was to talk to people I trusted about how I was feeling. Simply speaking aloud about my difficulties helped me to process my emotions and feel less alone. Sometimes, the people I talked to were able to offer me support and advice or help me to see my problems from a different perspective.

I also made sure to schedule some “me” time each week. This was time just for me to relax and recharge, without having to worry about my son or my other responsibilities. I would often use this time to play golf or take photographs, which are two of my passions.

Taking care of my mental health has helped me to be a better parent to my son. When I am feeling good, I am better able to manage his challenges and provide him with the support he needs.

If you are concerned about someone, have the courage to check in and ask how they are doing. A conversation could truly change a life, and remember, it is okay not to be okay.

If you have been affected by anything in this article, please visit‘s international directory of mental health support services.


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