Nearly one in three Australian SME owners were diagnosed with anxiety, depression, stress or related mental health issues in 2020.
Acknowledging how difficult the last twelve months have been, two new programs have been launched to support the emotional well-being of business owners.
Counting on U
Counting on U is a Deakin University-led mental health first aid and relationship building training program supported by Chartered Accountants ANZ. While the training is not intended to enable accountants to diagnose or treat mental illness, it teaches them how to have sensitive conversations with their clients.
Counting on U aims to equip accountants with the ability to:
- Deal with heightened financial distress in SME owners
- Identify and understand SME business needs and stressors when delivering business advice
- Confidently administer first aid to someone experiencing a mental health crisis while also supporting early identification and management of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, stress and suicide
- Look after their health and wellbeing while also supporting the mental health of others
- Become an accredited Mental Health First Aider
The program was developed because business advisors who regularly work with SME owners have been identified as a group that can play a key role in supporting their clients’ mental health.
This was reflected in research conducted by Intuit Quickbooks which showed that half (50 per cent) of small business leaders used their advisor for ‘emotional support’ during the pandemic. “Emotional support” refers to those who answered that their advisor delivered ‘moral support and encouragement’, ‘coaching me through the crisis’, and/or provided ‘a confident/shoulder to cry on and mental health support’.
“Over perhaps the most uncertain financial year of our lives, many small business owners have suffered not just financially, but emotionally too,” said Meagan Wood, Head of Advisor Strategy at Intuit QuickBooks Australia.
“Our research shows that half of Australia’s small businesses have found emotional support from their advisors, which shows us the vital and changing role that bookkeepers and accountants play. From helping businesses to access government support, to keeping people employed, and even offering a shoulder to cry on, their expertise has helped keep the small business sector alive and well.”
Read more: Understanding mental health
Beyond Blue targets business owners
NewAccess for Small Business Owners is a free and confidential national mental health coaching program developed by Beyond Blue.
Over six sessions, coaches with a small business background work with entrepreneurs to overcome difficult issues and provide them with practical skills to manage stress.
During the first appointment, a coach completes an initial assessment and develops a program tailored to each individual’s needs.
NewAccess for Small Business Owners is available by phone or video call, and no doctor’s referral or mental health treatment plan is required.