Free help for stressed business owners

Free help for stressed business owners

Small business owners face a common set of challenges – limited HR or admin staff, long hours, and endless pressures. A new free service offers coaching in problem-solving and stress management.

Like any organisation, small businesses need to deal with market competition, product or service quality, cash flow, sustainability, and staffing issues as well as time and cost constraints. Technological change means employers need to switch to new systems and equipment and re-train personnel, and comply with regulatory requirements.

In recent times, supply chain disruptions, price fluctuations, and the consequences of the COVID pandemic have exacerbated the difficulties of making ends meet. The news is full of stories about builders going belly-up thanks to the soaring costs of raw materials, and the emergence of AI is threatening long-standing ways of working, not to mention the effects of drought, fires, and floods.

For small business owners, the impact of these and other challenges can be a heavy burden, exacerbated in many cases by domestic or personal issues that can intensify the pressures on the owner as key decision-maker.

FREE SERVICE

Beyond Blue, in partnership with Richmond Fellowship Queensland, is offering small businesses a free service – NewAccess for Small Business Owners (NASBO) – designed to give you the skills to manage stressors such as negative self-beliefs, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed. This guided self-help mental health coaching program is confidential, convenient, and flexible, with after-hour appointments possible. It’s available nationally by phone or video call, and you don’t need a GP referral.

NewAccess may be right for you if you have 20 or fewer employees and are not currently seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you’re in crisis, other support options will be more suitable.

Over six sessions, a mental health coach will work with you to manage stress and worries using straightforward problem-solving approaches. All mental health coaches are specially trained and have a small business background so they understand your unique challenges.

The initial assessment takes up to 60 minutes. You can talk with your coach about the challenges you’re facing.

NewAccess coach Graham Pegg says these challenges commonly involve coping with self-doubt, social anxiety (e.g. before having to give a presentation), and feelings of burnout from trying to do everything yourself. Financial worries, recovering from natural disasters, sleep, and concentration problems can also be the focus of attention.

With your coach, you’ll choose one or two issues to focus on. Together you’ll develop a problem statement setting out exactly what those issues are, what’s causing them, and what’s perpetuating them. Then the coach will help you create a plan based on your needs, including practical steps you can take to tackle the problems.

Pegg says the approach used is action-based therapy, not talk-based therapy. He says the actions are designed to break the cycle of negative thought patterns, help you restore work-life balance, and get you feeling more resilient.

This is followed by five weekly sessions of up to 30 minutes. Each week you’ll talk with your coach to review your progress and work through your planned actions. The coach will guide you with practical strategies to pursue before the next session.

NewAccess coaches use Low-intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, a structured, evidence-based psychological treatment in which they’ve received 12 months of training. This approach can help you break unhelpful thoughts by recognising red flags in the way you think, act, and feel. It can give you a fresh perspective on the difficulties you’re facing, and healthy coping strategies for dealing with them. Your coach’s suggestions will be informed by their small business background and understanding of the issues.

When your six sessions are up, your coach will talk with you about booking follow-up sessions to check in on your progress and help you decide whether you need to seek more support. They will give you a final call six months after your last session.

According to NewAccess, most people who participate in the program (about seven out of 10) report a significant reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression, but about 30% may need more support. If so, your coach will help you find a more appropriate service.

Pegg says the results speak for themselves.

‘We see the outcomes – we see people recover – so we know we’re making a difference,’ he said.

To find out more, visit the website or phone the service on 1300 945 301.

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