While last week’s budget announcement saw a much-needed cash boost for salons, it’s the $4.26 million commitment to rolling out a new mental health programme for small business owners that will also be intrinsic in keeping salon owners safe and healthy.

Mental health organisation Beyond Blue will deliver the NewAccess for Small Business service, that will give salon owners access to up to six free one-on-one telehealth sessions with specially trained mental health coaches who will advise them on managing stress and anxiety.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell, has welcomed the setting up of the service that is expected to be up and running in early 2021.

“Mental health is proving to be the next big challenge to emerge from the COVID crisis and it is particularly impacting the small-business community,” Ms Carnell said. “There has never been a tougher time to be in business. Small-business owners are struggling to stay afloat and keep their staff employed throughout this difficult period. Small-business loans are often secured against the family home, so if they lose their business they could lose their home,” Carnell added. “It means the stakes are incredibly high and that is understandably taking a huge toll on small business owners’ mental health.”

A big point of difference in the service is that the coaches on the phone line also have experience in working Ibn the small business sector, rendering them qualified to offer an empathic approach. 

“NewAccess is a proven early intervention service with average clinically-validated recovery rates of 70 per cent,” Ms Carnell explained. “Importantly, the program is designed to appeal to people who might not otherwise seek support for their mental health, which we know applies to members of the small-business community.”

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