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Accountants praised for role in SME mental health

Accountants can be the key to helping small businesses overcome mental health issues by encouraging public discussion and diminishing the stigma associated with seeking help.

Accountants praised for role in SME mental health
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Beyondblue’s head of workplace research and development, Nick Arvanitis, says small business owners are at a greater risk of developing a mental health condition because of their greater responsibilities and workload.

His comments follow the publication of Suncorp’s SME vs Me report which revealed that many business owners are overlooking their personal wellbeing to achieve business success. The study found that almost two-thirds of business owners surveyed experienced a personal impact – including financial stress and loss of motivation – as a result of work stress.

Mr Arvanitis said small business owners need to realise that “no man is an island”, and lean on the expertise of accountants when dealing with the financial side of their business.

“Clearly, as a small business owner with all the demands that come with running a small business, you essentially won’t be able to do everything by yourself so if there’s a need for financial advice from an accountant or there’s a need for mentoring, [you should approach someone],” he said.

“As a small business owner, you need to be thinking [of] what sort of support and advice and expertise you need in order to run a successful small business and to look after your own mental health.”

Suncorp chief executive of customer platforms Gary Dransfield echoed the sentiment, urging small business owners to look outwards for solutions.

“Time is so valuable to small business owners, yet it’s the one thing they rarely have enough of. There are many solutions available – digital software programs, business dashboards, business advisers, accountants – which can remove operational complexities and alleviate some time pressures,” Mr Dransfield said.

Heads Up, beyondblue’s mentally healthy workplace initiative, notes that one in five employees are likely to be experiencing a mental health condition at any given time, costing Australian employers $10.9 billion every year.

“[Stigma] is a very significant barrier to people disclosing and talking about mental health conditions and seeking the treatment and support that they might need,” Mr Arvanitis said.

“On the flip side, the most effective way of reducing stigma is to have people share their personal experiences of having a mental health condition because those sharing of stories can be really powerful in terms of encouraging conversations about mental health conditions.”

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