The government has increased funding for mental health support services for business owners as the pandemic woes continue to put pressure on their mental health for the third year.
Beyond Blue’s NewAccess for Small Business Owners mental health programme, which provides small business owners with free phone and video support, has received a $4.6 million federal grant.
Small business owners, including sole traders, can participate in the programme and receive six one-on-one sessions with specialised coaches and former business owners.
The additional funding for the service means small business owners impacted by the pandemic and natural disasters will continue to receive support beyond 1 April to 31 December 2022.
“The Federal Government’s announcement comes at a time when the COVID-19 omicron variant is placing further pressure on small businesses, which are experiencing workforce shortages, supply chain issues and impacts on patronage,” Beyond Blue Chair Julia Gillard AC said.
According to the government, the funding extension will assist an additional 2,565 small business owners and the hiring of an additional six mental health coaches through delivery partner Richmond Fellowship Queensland.
“Timely access to affordable mental health support can be the difference between someone quickly getting back on their feet or sliding further into a dark place,” Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said.
The service minimises barriers to accessing mental health support. It is free, requires no doctor’s referral, and is available out of usual business hours by telehealth (telephone or online).
Since its launch in March 2021, the program has supported more than 1,200 small business owners and delivered over 4,200 coaching sessions.
To know more about Beyond Blue’s NewAccess, click here.
Ombudsman welcomes funding
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, has welcomed the Australian government’s commitment to renew funding for the mental health programme for small business owners.
An additional $2.1 million has been announced to extend the Small Business Debt Helpline through 2022.
“Both the mental health and financial counselling support is welcome, particularly for small business owners who have loans secured against the family home,” ASFBEO Bruce Billson said.
“We know the stakes are incredibly high and that losing the business often means also losing the home.”
Additional funding, according to Bilson, would allow Beyond Blue to provide more coaches to meet the needs of the small business community.
“Small business owners have endured so much over the past two years, battered by the pandemic and natural disasters. The road to recovery has been lengthy and challenging, and that has understandably taken a toll on the bottom line and wellbeing,” he said.
More information about the NewAccess for Small Business Owners program is available by calling 1300 945 301 or visiting the Beyond Blue website.
The Small Business Debt Helpline is available at 1800 413 828. More information is also available online here.