Owning a small business can be extremely rewarding. However, it can also be a struggle. It can be isolating with worries about managing all the responsibilities that owning a small business entails, which can in turn affect your mental health.
October is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is an initiative of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) to advocate for and raise awareness of Australian mental health.
We have curated a list of some resources that may help you, your business, and your community.
What are mental health difficulties?
It is helpful to think about mental health on a spectrum.
At one end of the spectrum is mentally healthy. In this area you feel able to work and study, feel connected to others, be involved in activities in your community and ‘bounce back’ when life’s changes and challenges come along.
At the other end of the spectrum is mental illness. Mental illness is a general term that refers to a group of conditions, such as anxiety, depression or eating disorders. These conditions can significantly affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with others. Almost half of the population will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives.
In between these two ends there is a ‘coping area’, where people might feel some pressure but are doing OK, and a ‘difficulties area’ where people might feel like they aren’t doing so well.
It’s important to know that everyone sits someone on this spectrum, and where you are can change from day-to-day or week-to-week, depending on many factors.Headspace.org.au
Mental health in the workplace
A mentally healthy workplace is one that protects and promotes mental health. It also empowers people to seek help for depression and anxiety, for the benefit of the individual, business and community
According to an ABS study, 45% of Australians between the ages of 16-85 will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
Furthermore, one in five Australians (21%) have taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy.
There is an estimated cost of untreated mental health conditions to Australian workplaces of approximately $10.9 billion per year. This comprises $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in presenteeism and $146 million in compensation claims.
Promoting and encouraging a mentally healthy workplace is the only way to reduce these costs and should have the same importance placed on it as physical health and wellbeing.
Mental health resources
Here are some resources and services that are available if you or someone you know needs assistance.
24/7 crisis support centres
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
NewAccess for Small Business Owners
NewAccess for Small Business Owners is a free and confidential mental health coaching program, developed by Beyond Blue to give small business owners, including sole traders the support they need.
Whilst we haven’t completed this course, we have been advised by past participants, that it is informative, helpful and worthwhile.
Ahead for Business
Ahead for Business is a digital hub that supports mentally healthy businesses.
The hub provides tailored resources, peer support, check-ups and personalised action plans. It also showcases the experiences of small business owners through podcasts, videos, blogs and case studies.
Heads Up is all about giving individuals and businesses the tools to create more mentally healthy workplaces. The website provides a wide range of resources, information and advice for individuals and organisations. These are designed to offer simple, practical and, importantly, achievable guidance.
Mental Health First Aide
Completing a MHFA™ Course will help you to develop the skills to support a friend, family member or co-worker.
Having mental health first aid skills means that you can assist someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. This can make a real difference to your workplace and community.
I completed this course in 2021 and it has given me the knowledge and ability to have conversations and help others in need.
National Debt Helpline
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some help in dealing with your financial stress, you can contact one of the National Debt Helpline‘s financial counsellors.
Financial counsellors aren’t judgemental about your circumstances – they are there to offer you free, confidential and independent support and advice.
Rural Sobriety offers confidential and online private coaching as well as a course to help you quit drinking.
The course offers a rational, simple, science-based approach to changing your thoughts, and emotions so you can move forward into your new life. A life without shame, labels, pain, strict rules or feeling like you are missing out.
ACT for Ag
Farming can be incredibly tough, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. ACT for Ag brings accessible, paddock tested psychological tools to farmers and rural Australia. They focus on building the resilience and wellbeing of farmers, farming families & rural communities by empowering rural women to let go of the struggle and embrace the juggle.
ACT for Ag runs a community called Navigate for Her. The community gives access to women living rurally to easy to apply tools to help them stay on track, show up as the person they truly want to be, and have healthy relationships – both on and off the farm.
If anything in this article triggers any feelings that affect your mental health, please reach out to your GP or one of the services listed above.