From XU Magazine, 
Issue 27

New Access for Small Business Owners

Taking care of you as a small business owner is vital to your mental health and the overall success of your business. When we are mentally healthy and make wellness a key part of our small business, we ensure our teams, our customers and our suppliers are all supported as valuable participants to the success of our business.

I have been amazed at the support from the Beyond Blue team over the past year. They have worked tirelessly during the coronavirus pandemic providing support and resources for everyone including key programmes aimed at small business.

In March 2021 Beyond Blue in Australia launched a mental health coaching program to support small business owners across Australia.

A Federal Government survey of more than 1000 small business owners found almost one in three have experienced stress, anxiety or depression over the past year. The free NewAccess for Small Business Owners is a six-week program that offers support by trained mental health coaches who have a background in small business. The program is delivered via telehealth to small business owners experiencing stress and worries, and coaches, who operate with oversight from clinicians, are trained to refer participants to other support services as required.

This is an amazing achievement from Beyond Blue and recognises the challenges small business face and how the past year has added to those challenges.

What is new Access for Small Business Owners?

NewAccess is a free and confidential mental health program, developed by Beyond Blue to give small business owners the support you need. Whether you’re just feeling stressed, or completely overwhelmed about everyday life issues like work, relationships, health or loneliness, NewAccess is there when you need it.   

Over six sessions your NewAccess Coach will work side by side with you to overcome difficult issues, providing you with practical skills to manage your stress and get you back to feeling like yourself.   

Why Have Beyond Blue set up a programme specifically for small business owners?

Running a small business is a unique experience which can involve stress and pressure coming from many directions. If left unaddressed, these demands can sometimes place you at risk of severe or longer-lasting mental health challenges.  

We understand you may feel obliged to work when unwell, take work home or find it difficult to justify allocating time for yourself, let alone for your mental health. And there are always many barriers that can make seeking help difficult, such as:  

  • stigma 
  • cost  
  • lack of time  
  • limited availability of services during business hours and in convenient locations, and prioritisation of business over self.    

Understandably, a lot of small business owners are reporting that COVID-19 has negatively affected their mental health.   

To address this need, Beyond Blue’s NewAccess program aims to provide a much needed and practical support option for you.  

How long will NewAccess for small business owners be available?

The national telehealth program will initially be available for a period of 12 months from March 2021 to March 2022.

Who is it for?

NewAccess is for anyone aged 18 or over who owns a small business in Australia. For the purposes of program eligibility, a small business is defined as ≤ 20 employees. 

A person is not eligible for the program if they are: 

  • currently seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist 
  • dealing with severe/complex mental health issues. 

 An initial assessment conducted by a clinically supervised Coach is used to identify if NewAccess is the most appropriate service to support your mental health needs.   

Please note, if your symptoms or condition are found to be too severe or complex for this program, you will be referred to a more appropriate service or back to a GP. 

What to expect from the program?

NewAccess uses Low-intensity Cognitive Based Therapy (LiCBT) that allows the participant to recognise the way they think, act, and feel. Instead of a counsellor, they will have a Coach to help them work through an individual plan that they develop together.

• Initial assessment – up to 60 minutes

This is when the potential participant talks through their challenges and chooses one or two issues to focus on. They will develop a problem statement with their Coach, which summarises the issues they want to overcome and how they plan to do this. During the assessment, if it is identified the individual’s needs are more complex, they will be referred to a more appropriate service.

• Up to five sessions with your NewAccess Coach – 30 minutes weekly

Over these sessions the participant works with their Coach on a program tailored to their individual challenges and work through the problem statement. The participant will be given homework tasks to complete which are important for their growth as they move through the sessions.

There will be two follow up sessions with their Coach to ensure they are staying on track.

The participant’s progress is reviewed at each session. This ensures they receive an appropriate level of care. If at any point they are not responding to treatment, they will be directed to a more appropriate service.

The total time commitment if a participant were to attend all sessions including the initial assessment, is 3.5 hours.

After the 6 sessions, is there any follow up or support offered?

Follow up sessions occur at 1 and 6 months post final session. These sessions allow participants and Coaches to review individual progress. This also allows Coaches and participants to collaboratively review the outcomes achieved throughout treatment and to understand if the participant has been able to use the skills they have developed in the program. The program is delivered with clinical oversight and clear escalation and referral pathways, including business support and financial counselling services if required.

Who are the NewAccess for Small Business Owners Coaches?

Coaches of the NewAccess program all have a small business background, allowing them to better understand the challenges small business owners may face. Coaches are trained in Low-intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This is a structured, evidence-based treatment that allows you to recognise the way you think, act, and feel.

The Coaches undertake 12-months of training, starting with a six-week intensive that then moves to practical learning which involves managing participants and an ongoing curriculum under clinical supervision. Service Provider, Richmond Fellowship Queensland (RFQ) is responsible for recruiting the NASBO Coaches.

Why it works?

NewAccess has been operating for several years in Australia, starting with a pilot phase in 2013-2016. Independent research and evaluations have confirmed its efficacy and ability to be scaled as a low intensity early intervention service.  

Based on the UKs Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) model, the NewAccess model is adaptable for particular settings and populations. Evidence tells us the NewAccess program is effective. The average recovery rate for general population services is 70 per cent. The Comcare workplace pilot, which supported participants to deal with common issues like work-related stress, achieved a recovery rate of 78 per cent. 

Importantly, NewAccess is designed to appeal to people who might not otherwise seek support for their mental health and to provide support early, preventing symptoms from potentially getting worse.   

The program avoids clinical language, does not require a doctor’s referral and is delivered by relatable coaches – in this case people who have owned their own small business – making it an ideal service for small business owners.  

 How can the NewAccess for Small Business Owners Coaches program be accessed in Australia?

Enquiry details below:

  • Phone: 1300 945 301
  • Website: www.beyondblue.org.au/newaccess-SBO
  • Service provider: Richmond Fellowship Queensland – RFQ
  • Hours: Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm AEST via phone or video call
  • Email: newaccess.smallbusiness@rfq.com.au 

I would encourage all small business owners to make mental health and wellness a key focus in your business. There are many resources available and a great place to start is www.beyondblue.org.au or www.headsup.org.au  

Taking care of you means you can then support others around you.

Why leave it there?

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