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Advocates welcome mental health funding for Victoria’s small business community

- August 13, 2020 3 MIN READ

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says the Victorian Government’s $26 million wellbeing initiative for small business owners and workers will save lives.

“The enormity of this second wave lockdown and the psychological distress it is causing for small business owners cannot be underestimated,” Carnell said. “Given small business loans are often secured against the family home, the stakes are incredibly high and that is understandably taking a huge toll on small business owners’ mental health.

Carnell said the there was little doubt the Victorian government’s fund injection into mental health services would save lives.

“The Victorian Government is responding to the needs of the small business community, including sole traders, who will require ongoing mental health support for the duration of this crisis. This will

Under the program, St John Ambulance will provide accredited mental health support training to chambers of commerce across Victoria.

“Local chambers of commerce have direct links to the small business community. It’s logical to provide them with training to not only respond to small business owners experiencing stress, but even more critically – to identify the signs of someone who needs support.

“I would encourage all small business owners to seek help if they need it – there are plenty of free support services out there. You don’t have to face this alone.”

The funding will also allow for the expansion of the Partners in Wellbeing telephone hotline to include immediate access to business advisors and financial counsellors, which Carnell described as “a welcome move”.

“There’s never been a tougher time to be in business, so it’s really important that small business owners are prioritising all aspects of their health right now,” she said.

Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation has also received funding from the Victorian State Government to support young Victorians impacted by stage four COVID-19 restrictions.

A number of measures have been announced to support the mental health of Victorian school students, especially for VCE students, including funding for more than 1,500 school staff to undergo mental health training in partnership with headspace, helping to identify and support at-risk students.

The State Government has also announced additional funding to strengthen Victoria’s mental health system and boost community health services. This will support the 15 headspace centres in metropolitan Melbourne to proactively reach out to young people who may be struggling under stage four restrictions.

The funding aims to build the capacity of two key systems that support our young people – health and education.

Jason Trethowan CEO of headspace said, “We know that young people across the state need support through this period – not just for the duration of the Stage four restrictions but also into the future.

“This is why it is crucial that any funding helps to build the capacity of systems that young people access. Community mental health services and schools can often be the first point of contact that a young person has with mental health support, and it is crucial that these services are equipped to support that young person.”

Trethowan said that projected recession and unemployment trends resulting from COVID-19 are creating a range of future uncertainties for young people and this will have a profound effect on their mental health.

“We anticipate a range of long-term social and economic impacts on the lives of young people, including here in Victoria. These have the potential to influence young people and their family’s mental health and wellbeing for many years”

The Partners in Wellbeing telephone hotline is 1300 375 330 and Beyond Blue’s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au Young people in need of mental health support can reach out via headspace.org.au

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