Under the program, St John Ambulance will provide accredited mental health support training to chambers of commerce across Victoria.
ASBFEO Kate Carnell said local chambers of commerce have direct links to the small-business community, and that it’s logical to provide them with training to not only respond to small-business owners experiencing stress and 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,” Ms Carnell said.
“The expansion of the Partners in Wellbeing telephone hotline to include immediate access to business advisers and financial counsellors is also 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.”
Ms Carnell said the enormity of the second wave of lockdown and the psychological distress it is causing for small-business owners cannot be underestimated.
“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,” she said.
“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 save lives.”