Help­ing fix small busi­ness health

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE SAUCE -

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”.

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