“This year, the World Mental Health Day focus is to campaign for greater investment in mental health services as the COVID crisis takes a heavy toll on wellbeing globally,” Ms Carnell says.
“The enormity of the lockdowns and the psychological distress this has caused for small business owners cannot be underestimated.
“Given small business loans are often secured against the family home, it means if the business goes bust they can lose their home. This is a key factor impacting small business owners’ mental health right now.
“The good news is that Australian governments at all levels have recognised and substantially boosted mental health support in the wake of increased demand over the course of this pandemic.
“Just this week, the Federal Government committed $4.3 million in the Budget to rolling out a new mental health program for small business owners, called NewAccess for Small Business.
“This new program has formed part of the government’s $5.7 billion commitment to mental health, including $100 million to double the number of Medicare-subsidised sessions with a psychologist from 10 to 20 per year.
“The NewAccess service, to begin early next year, will provide small business owners with access to free one-on-one telehealth sessions with specially-trained mental health coaches.
“Crucially, the NewAccess coaches providing support to small business owners on strategies to manage stress, actually have experience in small business themselves. This approach will make a real difference.
“My 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.
“Finally, my message to small business owners on World Mental Health Day is this: You are not alone.
“It’s vital to seek help if you need it. Our My Business Health web portal provides free practical resources to help with running your business and also links to leading mental health organisations such as Beyond Blue.”
Watch Kate Carnell’s World Mental Health Day video here.