Free online program to help SMEs manage mental health

MENTAL health organisation, beyondblue, used last week's World Mental Health Day to launch a free online training program to help small business owners manage mental health issues in the workplace.

The Business in Mind (BIM) program addresses the unique challenges faced by smaller businesses, which often don't have money for specialist human resource services commonly found in larger organisations.

The interactive online program features video interviews with SME owners giving tips about how to recognise signs and symptoms of mental health problems in the workplace and how to help an employee.

There are also interviews with owners who discuss how they manage their own mental health and how to have a mentally healthy workplace.

beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said depression is common, can affect both business owners and employees, and costs the Australian economy $12.3 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and staff turnover.

"The fewer people there are working in a business, the greater the potential for impact, which is alarming when you consider that small to medium businesses employ around 70% of Australian workers," she said.

Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Peter Anderson said ACCI and its members are pleased to have contributed to BIM online as part of its beyondblue collaboration agreement.

"This online program holds great promise that our combined voices and resources can improve outcomes for small businesses and their people.

"I have long been concerned that workplace health and safety is wrongly seen through the prism of employer obligations to staff, whereas the well-being of business owners and their families working long and stressful hours is just as important.

"The case for self-care, understanding early warning signs and having the confidence to do something about them is a barrier needing to be broken.

"The human and economic cost and the consequences of mental illness in workplaces can be devastating and these are outcomes that small businesses can ill afford," Mr Anderson said.

Executive Director of the Council of Small Businesses of Australia (COSBOA) Peter Strong said small business people and their families will find there are great rewards in ensuring their workplaces are mental health-friendly and believes finding time to access the Business in Mind program will be a worthwhile investment.

"People in the small business sector often face enormous financial pressures and a whole range of stresses which can negatively affect their health and create a stressful work environment for staff.

"This online resource will give small businesses access to the kind of mental health training and personal support which is available to most employees in big businesses - and will benefit them in spades," Mr Strong said.

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