Today marks R U OK? Day, and business owners are being urged to not only check in with their workers but also complete a survey to drive better understanding of mental health issues within SMEs.
R U OK? Day, run by the charity of the same name, aims to tackle the issue of suicide. According to the organisation, close to 20 per cent of people wrongly believe that talking about suicide increases the risk of someone ending their own life, when in fact the opposite is often true.
The charity is undertaking a national roadshow to highlight awareness of suicide prevention strategies within businesses and communities in all parts of the country.
Business leaders are being urged to get involved in reducing the national suicide toll, given the substantial amount of waking hours that people spend at work.
Indeed, Pedro Diaz of the Workplace Mental Health Institute recently told My Business that 17 per cent of all suicides could be directly linked to workplace problems.
Mr Diaz said the current climate in Australia is particularly concerning, given the heated public debate surrounding the marriage equality postal vote.
SMEs are thought to be more susceptible to mental health challenges, given the smaller resources for employee assistance programs and other limitations on support.
As such, the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is undertaking a survey to try and build some credible data around the prevalence of mental health issues within the SME community.
“The IPA has commenced a program of works under the banner of #accounting4life. We have just completed a national roadshow engaging directly with small business owners and identified growing issues related to the mental health and wellbeing,” a spokesperson said.
“We [want] to explore this fact further to inform further research. This initial questionnaire will inform the design of our research and we are asking small business owners and advisers to provide [their] thoughts about these issues.”
As an added incentive to participate in the IPA’s anonymous survey, it is offering respondents a $500 Officeworks voucher.
The IPA's Andrew Conway will be discussing the issue of mental health in SME workplaces in a forthcoming episode of the My Business Podcast, so stay tuned!
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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