Helping fix small business health
SMALL business owners battling depression, anxiety and stress will be the target of a new national effort to improve their mental health.
A tailor-made program for small business operators struggling to cope with day-to-day pressures will be expanded across Australia.
Mental health experts, politicians and small business leaders will converge in Canberra on Wednesday to address the worrying trend, found particularly in drought-affected areas.
Federal small business minister Michaelia Cash said sole traders and owners faced unique stresses including long hours, cashflow concerns and feeling isolated.
The federal government has allocated $3.1 million in this month’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook to expand the Ahead For Business program, now being trialled in Parramatta, Lake Macquarie and Singleton.
A further $500,000 will also fund an awareness campaign aimed at Australia’s 3.3 million small businesses.
“They are the people we need to ensure we have adequate support for,” Ms Cash told The Sunday Telegraph.
“Where are the resources for them when they are sitting at home at night raising the questions of ‘what do I do’ and ‘where do I go?’ ”
Ms Cash said Ahead For Business was convenient for time-starved small business owners and will be rolled out to regional and rural areas.
“The intervention needs to be simple, it needs to be flexible and available after usual business hours,” she said.
The online program was developed by Everymind. Director Jaelea Skehan said mental illness among small business owners had been a “forgotten area” until recently and the new program helped those suffering to “know they are not alone”.