MENTAL health and well-being expert Jade McIlfatrick says small businesses were in a unique space, working in a COVID-normal but continuing to feel the pandemic's ripple effects.
Ms McIlfatrick said some mental health impacts from the past year might not be evident yet and it was important businesses be equipped with the right tools to identify a need for further support.
The mental health clinician consultant has started in a post with Commerce Ballarat via the Partners in Well-being program. The program is part of a $26 million state government plan announced by Victorian Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford last August.
While the initial funding was made in the height of lockdowns and business uncertainty, Commerce Ballarat and Ms McIlfatrick are also looking at the preventative opportunities for the wider business community.
"Providing education in mental health and well-being and how we're looking after staff can impact absenteeism and conflict in the workplace. When we're looking after employees we see those things reduce," Ms McIlfatrick said.
"Often with mental health you don't see the impacts right away. If we can get a preventative space and help identify people who might be struggling, hopefully we can negate some long term issues...It's a fine balance between making sure we're supporting staff and getting work done that needs to get done."
IN OTHER NEWS
Ms McIlfatrick's role is in frontlien support for small business owners, helping to connect them with community-based services such as general practitioners or financial counsellors.
She will also be running a series of well-being and psychological first aid online workshops to be delivered further into the Grampians region. Workshops are open to Commerce Ballarat members and non-members in a bid to offer holistic support to the wider business community.
Ms McIlfatrick said business issues facing the region varied depending on industry: some had surged and we busy to meet demand after prolonged periods in lockdown; others might have been struggling with mental health concerns before the pandemic and "COVID added an extra layer" to this.
For free COVID mental health support in business, contact Partners in Well-being 1300 375 330. More: commerceballarat.com.au.
Our team of local journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the Ballarat community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: