When the going gets tough

Small business is challenging at the best of times, but so much harder at the worst. HOUSING shines a spotlight on mental health resources to help you get through.


Laura Valic

Running a small business has always required hard work. There’s the long hours, people management, administrative duties and the strain that goes along with balancing these aspects. In fact, one in three small business owners report high levels of psychological distress.

The impact of COVID-19 has presented small business owners with unprecedented challenges they could not have seen coming. Depending on the sector, these challenges are as varied as they are difficult. Many small business owners have had to reduce the amount of hours that staff work or stand employees down entirely. 

Others have been forced to close up, then re-open, then close again. 

There’s dotting the i's and crossing the t’s for JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments, keeping up staff morale and communicating with workers as transparently as possible. These, combined with the regular challenges facing small business owners, can generate a huge amount of pressure and contribute to poor mental health and wellbeing. 

Mental health check in

If you’ve found the past year has added to your stress levels, then the chances are some of your colleagues, peers, family and friends may be suffering in a similar way. Knowing what influences our mental health, and the signs that tell us that something is not right, can assist us in resolving issues before they snowball.  

To help you and others to persevere in these trying circumstances, Beyond Blue has developed a free, four-part online course Mental wellbeing: support yourself and small businesses to help you understand mental health basics and why talking about mental health in business (or any workplace) is so important.

Developed through a collaboration between HIA Charitable Foundation partner Beyond Blue and Xero, the free course is available via online training platform Go1 and comprises four modules:

  • Introduction to mental health
  • Look after yourself at work and home
  • Check on someone’s wellbeing 
  • Support small business day-to-day.

The course helps you find the best way to check in on someone who you’re concerned about, make mental health a priority in your own business so you can support others, and learn how to maintain your wellbeing with healthy habits at work and home.

What do participants say?

Tim Hoopmann, a Beyond Blue speaker who also runs Spinn Business Solutions – a venture that helps businesses increase efficiency and reduce stress – says the course helps to educate people about what to look out for, while providing the tools and confidence to approach these conversations.

‘Taking care of your wellness and mental health is the first step towards better business,’ he says. ‘When we take care of ourselves, it puts us in the best position to operate our business and take care of those around us – our teams, our customers and our suppliers.’

Patrick Hill, HIA Manager Workplace Services – QLD, recently completed the course and says it is a great supervisor program suitable for anyone who manages staff – not just small business owners.

‘The program will be beneficial to businesses of varying sizes, from small business to larger businesses with HR departments,’ he says. ‘Learning skills to acknowledge and talk to someone who may be struggling is a universal skill which can also be applied in your own personal lives. 

‘The modules are easy to use and the skills learnt will be invaluable.’ 

Tim adds that is it a ‘must-do’ course with great takeaways for helping to build up your confidence in navigating these very important conversations with others. ‘The principles will also provide benefit to your day-to-day life.’ 

Click here to access the course.


Ending 2020 on a high note

There would be few who came through 2020 unscathed, the year’s unprecedented challenges of natural disasters and the pandemic placing pressure on us in more ways than one. 

The HIA Charitable Foundation (HIACF) continued its support of mental health and wellbeing for people working in the Australian residential building industry by donating $100,000 to Beyond Blue in October.

Through the partnership, HIACF has donated around $865,000 to Beyond Blue since 2014 in support of mental health initiatives.

Mental health professionals are available at the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3PM-12AM AEST) or email responses within 24 hours. 


Not an HIA member yet? By joining Australia’s largest national association for the residential building industry, you’ll get access to a range of member benefits, as well as industry products and business services designed to help you manage, operate and grow.

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