Last week's events including RUOk Day resulted in the opportune time to talk about how small business owners can deal with mental health issues in their businesses.

The statistics around mental health and suicide in Australia are truly staggering:

·      65% of small business owners have a mental health condition

·      54% of people who have a mental health condition don’t seek treatment

·      Of deaths among 25-44 year olds, 75% are due to suicide

These numbers paint a distressing picture.

The pressures on small business owners can also be amplified by the lack of resources and awareness to deal with mental health issues – both their own and those of their staff and families.

It’s a fact that often small businesses don’t have the resources to invest in professional counselling services for owners and staff. Between paying the rent and ensuring adequate cashflow, as well as the costs of insurance, there wouldn’t be too many businesses that could afford to provide professional help.

As a result, the role of counsellor often falls on the business owner, which is flawed due to the increased stress, isolation and pressure that small business owners often find themselves under.

Fortunately, as a society we’re getting much better at having conversations around mental health, but we still have a long way to go. As a result, Beyond Blue has recently released a guide to help small businesses handle mental health issues. You can download it here.

The guide provides some great tips, including:

·      How to improve awareness and reduce stigma in small businesses

·      How to make information available in the workplace

·      How to support staff who are experiencing mental health issues

In my view, it boils down to open and honest communication. I know that I consider my staff and colleagues who run small businesses that I deal with regularly as my family. Asking “RUOk” can be enough to get the conversation started.