Federal Budget prioritises small business owners’ mental health

07/10/2020

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed the Federal Government’s $4.26 million budget commitment to rolling out a new mental health program for small business owners.

Leading mental health organisation Beyond Blue will deliver the NewAccess for Small Business service, which will provide small business owners with access to free one-on-one telehealth sessions with specially trained mental health coaches. The service is expected to commence early next year.

“Mental health is proving to be the next big challenge to emerge from the COVID crisis and it is particularly impacting the small business community. There has never been a tougher time to be in business. Small business owners are struggling to stay afloat and keep their staff employed throughout this difficult period,” Ms Carnell said.

“Small business loans are often secured against the family home, so if they lose their business they could lose their home. It means the stakes are incredibly high and that is understandably taking a huge toll on small business owners’ mental health. Beyond Blue’s NewAccess service offers evidence-based, personal advice on strategies for managing stress.”

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.

“Crucially, it is provided by specially trained coaches that have experience in small business. Being able to talk to someone who understands the mental load of running a small business will make a real difference. Small business participants will have six one-on-one sessions with their designated coach, who will use evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy to support them to overcome stress and manage anxiety and depression,” she said.

NewAccess is a proven early intervention service with average clinically-validated recovery rates of 70 per cent.

“Importantly, the program is designed to appeal to people who might not otherwise seek support for their mental health, which we know applies to members of the small business community,” Ms Carnell said.

The ASBFEO office will be working in partnership with Beyond Blue to promote NewAccess and connect small business owners with the service via our call centre and assistance team. The program will also be fully integrated into our My Business Health web portal.