Speaking during World Mental Health Day on October 10, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell urged struggling small business owners to reach out for help through government support services.

Ms Carnell was referring to the Federal Government’s commitment of $4.3 million in the Budget to rolling out a new mental health program for small business owners called NewAccess for Small Business—addressing the enormity of the lockdowns and the psychological distress it has caused many small business owners.

“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,” she said.

Ms Carnell said her office would be working in partnership with Beyond Blue to promote NewAccess and connect small business owners with the service via their call centre and assistance team.

“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,” she added.