Mental health funding welcomed by small business owner

By Jason Irvine

Some $10.9 million of funding to assist Beyond Blue to extend their mental health coaching services has been welcomed by local small businesses.

Beyond Blue’s NewAccess for Small Business Owners (NASBO) service offers one-on-one support to small business owners, with each mental health coach specially trained and having a small business background.

The free, confidential and convenient program, which works to manage stress and those who are overwhelmed will be offered for a further two years, thanks to the Budget funding, while the pressures of the pandemic and growing economic pressure continue to resonate in our region.

Dylan Stone, President of the Broken Hill Small Business Association and owner of Stone’s On Argent, said crucial government support to small businesses is crucial.

The additional ability to supply mental health coaching to small business owners was vital, said Mr Stone.

“At the outset, I think any funding for mental health services, that is always important, it’s always going to be beneficial, and I don’t think anyone can legitimately argue against it,” Mr Stone told the Barrier Truth.

“I think in particular, when we’re talking about mental health support for small businesses, that is something that is absolutely needed. It is needed in Broken Hill.

“Probably one criticism that I would have is, throughout the pandemic, I really don’t believe enough mental health support was made available to anyone, really.

I think we’re going to see that in years to come, how many problems we’re going to get out of that.

“But, in terms of small businesses, the small business community, they’re the people that were at the forefront of the pandemic, they were the ones that had to shut up shop, they were the ones that had to enforce vaccine mandates.

“The whole situation was an incredible toll and I think it’s pretty clear that businesses didn’t get as much help, especially small businesses, and even now we’re living, I guess, in almost a post-Covid time, and we’re still dealing with the side effects of that.

“Obviously mental health is one of those side effects and it’s good that that issue’s being slowly recognised, and being addressed.

“I absolutely want to commend the Federal Government for making that announcement.

In principle, we will always welcome any announcements that are going to be beneficial to small businesses and small business owners and it’s good that the Budget has seemed to take an interest in that and the Budget is at least been seen to recognise the challenges that we’re continuing to deal with.”

Throughout the height of the pandemic, many small businesses in Broken Hill didn’t qualify for any Covid funding or support and those that did, haven’t received any Government funding since February, an effect that’s still being felt amid other rising pressures, with Mr Stone noting some businesses are still running on reduced hours and offerings.

He believes help from the Federal Government, and via organisations like Beyond Blue that can provide dedicated programs to help small business owners is invaluable because of the more personalised opportunity to chat so openly about the struggles many are still facing.

“We’re certainly living in a world now where we can talk openly and candidly about mental health and that’s fantastic,” said Mr Stone.

“I think though, small business owners are probably still very wary to do that because everyone’s gone through the pandemic and from the people I speak to, I think there’s almost that guilt or ‘why am I feeling down?’ or ‘why should I complain, because people have got it worse?’.

That’s obviously not a good attitude to have because you can’t dismiss what you’re going through.

“I think that’s why a service like this is going to be very helpful because it’s also connecting small business owners who are struggling with their mental health to people that actually have an understanding of the challenges.

“It’s good to be able to have that service there that actually understands and can actually relate to small business owners and I really, really do hope there is a good uptake of that in Broken Hill for the small business owners that need that service.”

There’s plenty of ways residents in Broken Hill can continue to support small businesses, not only in-store, but with positive engagement, especially online also, says Mr Stone.

“The best way [people] can support small businesses is by shopping locally, by going in and buying the shirt or the coffee or anything that the small business has to offer,” he says.

“But we’re the first to recognise that people don’t have money, and that’s the truth.

Now we understand that so what we’d like to see and ask is for those people is that you don’t need to be spending your last five dollars in our businesses to make a difference to us, get on there and give us a like on Facebook, get on there and leave us a nice review, get on there and share our pages on Facebook so we’re able to target different customers, and all that.

“There’s a lot of different things that people can do, whether it’s actually spending their dollars in our businesses or not, that they’re able to do to support us.”

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