Host: All right welcome everyone.
I'll let people trickle in thank you so much for joining us we're really excited today to be joined by these two people who are just blown me away by the discussions we've had talking about this topic and also promoting these resources that are freely available to you right now.
We know that there's quite a few people joining today so I'll spend a little bit longer letting everyone come in and just go over the flow of things while we wait.
Today it'll be about 25 minutes of discussion, we've got Tim who's from a small business background he's done a bunch of work and then we've also got a really great representative from Beyond Blue, Linda.
I'm just going to flag now that there is a question and answer function so please drop your questions in there and I can send through some text answers if they're direct I can drop them into conversation we're really excited to put that forward but before I go any further I do want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that I'm on and also the land that we're all on and they're elders past present and emerging. In particular for me it's their approach to a whole person and their connection to land that's really been enforced to me about the mental health of everyone learning from from my local elders and their traditions has really helped me be better at reaching out to people and understanding what's going on to all the people in my life so I also want to say thank you to those people for that.
While we're here, if you've wandered in without knowing why we're here I'll be very surprised, but it's no big surprise that most small businesses have been really hard by the pandemic. Even those that have been thriving throughout this process have been
thriving under adversity uh and I'm just really proud of the work that Xero and Beyond Blue have done to pull these together so that people can have some resources to help reach out um there is courses freely available we'll share the link afterwards for those. But I think what's more important is that uh i let our our guests introduce themselves. Tim, do you want to kick us off who you are...
Tim Hoopman: Thanks very much Cam and thanks very much for the opportunity to come and join the conversation today. My name is Tim Hoopman I've spent many years in small business and so I'm a real advocate for small business I'm an advocate for technology in small business and I'm also a a great supporter of . mental health.
I have been a speaker for Beyond Blue for two and a half years and of all the things I've done in my life this is in the top group. It's such a joyous thing to be able to stand out and talk to people such as the people here today and lots of other people I've talked to about self-care about looking after ourselves about mental health and about starting a conversation, so I'm really excited to be here today.
I'm looking forward to chatting with you and with Linda who I've done a lot of work with and I love working with so it's a really it's a joyous Friday thank you, yeah it is a very happy Friday. I think we were having some some very interesting conversations just before about about about your background and the things that you've gone through which are incredibly heartwarming so I'm really keen to hear more of your stories and um before i go too far though Linda could you introduce yourself as well please.
Linda Sheahan: Oh thank you so much Cam and thanks Tim, a very brief intro for me my name's Linda and I'm very privileged to work with Beyond Blue I work in the Workplace team which means our goal is to help all Australians achieve their best mental health at work and it's actually all people in Australia um not just Australians um I'm joining you today from Boone Warren land they're the water um people of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne um and my home's on Gadigal land in Sydney so I'm really thrilled at the breadth of the audience um people from all over Australia today from all types of businesses. Before joining Beyond Blue my background was mostly in I worked for about 15 years in injury management so helping people recover from mental health conditions and also injury prevention with a real workplace lens I was also lucky to work in a small business that grew into a large business so small business is also very close to my heart as well as Tim said I've had the very fortunate opportunity to work with Tim and at Beyond Blue we're very grateful to Cam and the team at Go1 so really excited to be here today and looking forward to the conversation.
Host: Wonderful, I think the the key thing to to do with that and thank you so much for joining us is uh i think that if you take nothing else away from today and from jumping on there are resources that are available to you right now at no cost you can jump on you can do them you can share them with people.
Linda what are they we have and the main reason that we're talking today is Beyond Blue has launched an online training course and it's really targeting small business advisors or anyone who knows or what works with small business. The course is called Mental Wellbeing Support for Yourself in Small Business, it's completely free it's been co-designed with the small business community and mental health experts.
It includes four 20-minute self-directed lessons they're called: 'An introduction to mental health', 'How to recognize when somebody needs support', 'How to look after your own wellbeing in the workplace and at home' and 'How to have a conversation with somebody that you're worried about'. It's really tailored for small business and how advisors can proactively support small business owners day-to-day. As I mentioned it's free, it's available across Australia it's really targeted at practical skills to help people both yourselves and in small business.
Tim you've had a bit of a role in the development of these as well i think I've run into a bunch of times over the years as I've coming to contact with them could you talk a little bit about that.
Tim: Yeah thanks Cam, I couldn't be more excited about this course, Beyond Blue do unbelievable work within the community and a number of years ago they were identifying that small business was such an important part of that and there probably needed to be some more resources for them so I think they've done an amazing job in pulling together some great resources.
Being a small business owner and having lived um with anxiety while I was running my small business and now being able to speak openly about that, which i probably wouldn't have done five years ago. So they helped me gain the confidence to do that to help other people and and so therefore the training was really important um and I love the fact that I was being able to go through that and one of the key things for me in that training um that came out to me was let's move the module that's for small business for small business advisors to the front so that they look after themselves first and then go about helping other people because sometimes there's some fear around that and we'll probably discuss that a little more fear around having those conversations so let's bring that module up to the front let's learn about mental health and let's bullseye that so that each of you as an advisor in whatever capacity that is your your thought about first in this training and you're given tips and tools to help you as an individual and I think that's really spot on.
Host: Thanks, I think that's that's kind of core there in that there's a lot of research that's gone into what small businesses need at the moment and I think Linda you were talking to me a bit about this earlier what is actually have you seen from from all the consultation that is happening for for people in the small business community at the moment.
Linda: Yeah, so, for the Beyond Blue workplace program small business is an enduring priority for us. Small businesses make up I think it's almost 50% of the Australian workforce and small businesses are over 97% of all businesses in Australia so it's a huge proportion of the working population.
We know that small business owners in particular they tend to have much higher rates of psychological distress, so for example pre-pandemic around one-third of small business owners reported having high levels of psychological distress. This was mainly due to long working hours, social isolation, customer demands, cash flow and conflicting demands with home and work.
I think one of the things we hear a lot the small business community is small business owners tend to have a lot on their shoulders and I think this has been heightened during the pandemic. We know this year for example that two-thirds of small business owners now say the impacts of the pandemic have negatively affected their mental health and some of the enhanced trends we're seeing this year around working security managing safety changes many people are applying for government assistance for the first time we've got a lot of general uncertainty and the emotional impact of what's happening.
I mentioned with small business they tend to have fewer other people in the organization able to help them through this so that process of getting support can be more challenging again in terms of what this means and how we try and encourage help seeking and support for small businesses.
We know that small businesses are already busy people in small business there tends to be really high self-efficacy so they might not be the first people to go out and seek help but there's a want to to solve problems and have skills and have that capacity but the bit of feedback we keep hearing again and again is people want help where they go they want help in the community and so we've really come up with this advisor angle for the training and it means that the training any small business owner can do it anyone in small business can do it and benefit from it.
What we're really trying to do is work with the community around small businesses so we've had great support from the ATO but the business advisor community and everyone that knows and works with small business the more we can upskill everyone um then it helps with that capacity to really reach out support others and encourage that helping a mate are you okay behavior that we've seen really good practice and evidence around. Tim is that consistent with what you've seen as well?
Tim: Absolutely, and I think if we think about business advisors that's a great support group to start with and I know there'll be many out there listening today and I've talked to you know hundreds of them. In particular over the last six months you know they are also frontline workers because they are dealing with small business owners often sometimes every single day and a lot of those small business owners have been in distress and perhaps even more so in the last six months and often as a as an advisor you're not really sure where to go and you're not really um sometimes you're not in a place where you think oh i don't know whether i should start a conversation because what if it goes completely wrong and they're a client of mine and is that going to destroy our relationship?
So I think that you know how aiming this ad advisor is a really good place to start and the other thing about it is that it's training for advisors but it's also um mental health training for them as a small business owner so you've got small business owners that are advising small business owners and everybody's learning um and you're being much better equipped to have those conversations and you're also much better equipped to share information and support and resources to these people and I would encourage not only advisors but every single person in small business or in any business to be doing the course because it's really really important.
I think you make a really good point small business owners are so busy and they're so focused on you know just keeping the show on the road at times. I know you've got customers and you've got often teams and you've got ATO and you've got supplies and now you've got another level of stress over the top of you that often they don't take any care of themselves because they think I just need to suck this up and I need to get on with it and so they so having advisers supporting them in many ways one of which is their mental health.
What I was really intrigued about with this because we go one we've grown very rapidly from being a small business but chatting to our team about it and going through the resource they were like 'I ain't really interested in the supporting yourself idea' that was put through there and making sure that you're in a place to reach out but the IT I have at home for a lot of us that we work with all these small business providers every day you know the people who are coming in to help us refit the office at the moment the people who are who are assisting us to to to rebuild out the way we work are all like heaps of small businesses around login in particular and learning that we can reach out to them in a safe way and kind of practicing through some of those has been one of the most valuable things for me um i can see a hand or two up so I'll just take a moment to to let someone ask a question because I've been talking for a while.
John do you want to do you want to ask something there uh if not i'll keep things moving because we don't have that much time but what we'll do is if you want to submit a question just pop it into the Q&A function.
We'll keep going through that um what I'd really love to dive into I guess is a lot of people are struggling at the moment with particular things um Linda you know you've done quite a bit of research on the on the trends of of things that people are going through could you talk about even pre-Covid what was happening with small businesses what are the key things to look out for i guess.
Linda: I think um with small businesses and advisors in particular um i mentioned before some of the stressors that small businesses have so it's that often isolation, competing demands, often not having many people in the business and often wearing a lot of hats as well. But I think when you think of the advisor angle as well and sometimes having these conversations there's that extra challenge of the client relationship or sometimes you know potential client relationship, or it's that unease of not knowing where the boundaries are of having a conversation and I think that's often a barrier to support as well that we often see a lot in small businesses.
It's who can you connect with so a real goal of the training I think two probably big things to keep in mind we're trying to build capacity for small businesses to make mentally healthy workplaces. Generally in a nutshell the approach we encourage for that is based on professor Tony Lamontagne's model which is called the integrated approach; it's got three core elements, it's around supporting people through hard times, protecting against risks, so identifying what are some of the hazards to mental health that we can plan around and promoting good health as well. And what the training does is help really simply and easily and practically build up a bit of capacity around those three core areas protect for promote support, but it also it makes it easy to plan in advance what you're going to do around mental health.
Some of the things that you might do you looking after yourself even if it's just you and your business or if you have other people either staff subcontractors people you work with regularly and that process of planning. I think it's really critical um sort of like insurance policy you don't wait until the house is burnt down before you try and do something about it. Just like that with your mental health, the more we can have an idea of what we would do to look after ourselves or somebody else if hard times came up.
Better knowledge with some of the things that do impact us how we can better manage our work to mitigate some of those stressors and how we can build up good health to keep us well and healthy and what the training does is just really very simply and elegantly create some simple easy strategies to help break down those barriers in having a conversation and give some tools for planning around staying well. I'm not quite sure I answered the question there Cam but are we going in the right direction.
Host: I think that's good, I'd love to tie it back to some some kind of usual experience for the people attending there. I think Tim you're great to throw to for that because well I've got a note on the side here that says make sure you talk to Tim about his experiences through Covid and also pre-Covid, with what you've lived through mate talk us through that.
Tim: I think it's interesting because throughout this last Covid period people are experiencing lots of different emotions and everybody is on a different journey so some people have been completely their business has been completely devastated and mean they may never recover. And other people are at the other end of the spectrum where they're overwhelmed because they're so busy and there's a whole mixture of things going on and when you talk to people you have to be kind of conscious of the fact that everybody's on a different journey when they're not all in the same stage in their business and they could be impacted completely different.
I remember back in March I would get up in the morning and I would consume what's going on in the world and I would be trying to make some sense out of it and try and get it on bring it on board and I'm someone that um knows how to manage my anxiety my and my mental health but I couldn't even control it then because it was just this huge impact. And I know a lot of people were feeling that and that was coming in all emotionally as there were things impacting their business so you put all that together and it's it could be quite catastrophic and so I needed to to take control by starting to limit it right down.
Talk about the world Australia, New South Wales, Sydney eastern suburbs where I live and that's timeframe of reference and time needed to take control of that no matter what was happening in the world I needed to be able to think about my business, I needed to think about my family, my community and my husband and my friends and once I started to bring it down to that it helped a lot. Some people might sit out there and go so that's really good too and I can't even begin to think that, but you know it is about resilience and it is about referring back to what are the things that are going to help us and how can we control that because some of the things are out of our control and what we can be responsible for is our realm and even if our business is going you know uh unbelievably well or not so or not so well we still have control over that and we still have help from the government and other these things and do need to make the best of it and that might be really challenging. But I think it's really important to kind of try and put it in perspective.
I remember having a conversation, I've talked about this before, with a young gentleman at a meeting about four months ago and he started talking about what tragedy was happening in Hong Kong and I said I completely understand but i absolutely don't have capacity to talk about that or take that on board. I think it was one of the first times that i went you know what i don't have to worry about everything else I can deal with mine and let's have a conversation but i can't take on anything else. I think putting those boundaries around yourself is really important.
Ok, a few questions have come through that I think would be great to throw to you Linda with this one which is are you finding Victorians who have been locked down onto stage four are they finding it particularly difficult or are there different experiences that we need to account for there?
Linda: That's a really good question I think of the timeline of the pandemic as well and one there was a study from i think The Australian National University and they sort of found over time at the start of the pandemic around March or April that across Australia there were higher rates of distress for everyone as time has gone on in particular, there have been higher rates coming out of Victoria for example.
I'm just going to pull up some numbers because I'd hate to get them wrong, but i think definitely in the ANU study now almost the majority of distressed Victorians are doing it a lot worse. Certainly for Beyond Blue now we saw, for example, in second week of June we were having a lot more traffic from NSW than Victoria if you think at that time we were coming out of restrictions everyone was sort of equally coming out together now two in three contacts to Beyond Blue so we've set up the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service as well which is that additional Covid support. This year most of the traffic's coming from Victoria so yes we're consistently saying over time the impact of the pandemic and where there is greater community risk and also some of those more immediate economic risks so, for example, the the ongoing restrictions on trading that are still much improved this week in Victoria, but we're still coming to terms with and we still have higher rates of restrictions than other parts of the country.
I think one of the trends we found really interesting is we're sort of starting to see diversification of impact over time you might think of six different ways that people are differently impacted by Covid so it might be a work in finances it might be the virus itself. If you have for instance pre-existing conditions that might make you more at risk or how much exposure risk there is in your work so if you're regularly out in the public or helping people or if you're relatively like myself closeted away at home it's often family is another big stressor as well.
If you've had plans change and expectations either go ahead or not go ahead a lot of people have had some fairly serious events as well this year so if people may have lost a loved one, we've seen a lot of family violence popping up as well or impact with the justice system and of course relationships. I think the trend that we're seeing where I'm getting to is the more positive or negative experiences people might face in these different areas can tend to lead to very different experiences of Covid and over time certain groups were saying will have more positive and more negative experiences and that data the ANU study I mentioned for instance more young people, more women, more people with other types of socioeconomic disadvantage we're starting to see these compounding inequalities as well so i think the positives that we're seeing coming out of this though is the more that we can up-skill people around mental health the more we can get people to support themselves.
The more preparedness we can have around mental health can still be important tools even when these really really challenging systems come around so quite a long answer that question Cam, but is that helpful do you want to go any further there at all?
I think just in the interest of time to so that we can get through a few other pieces today I will allow for an extra five minutes at the end for a few of these questions that are coming through um but one of the things that we really wanted to highlight i think Tim I'll throw this to you and as to follow on from that is when you what's it like to work with a client or customer and how do you go about this mental health conversation?
Tim: That's a really great question because for a lot of people they don't want to have that conversation they're kind of bit as I mentioned before they're a bit fearful they're afraid they'll say the wrong thing. i suppose in the past i have worked with many many small businesses and when i had less knowledge about mental health I didn't see changes in behavior or warning signs that something was going on and a good example of that is um often I would have customers that would be absent they just wouldn't get back to my team or myself or if they did sometimes they were agitated or angry and it's often really hard to not think what am I doing wrong? So to then start a conversation some people can feel quite fearful and I think that it's really important to equip yourself with a better understanding about mental health.
So if you think back to the training first and foremost it gives you education on mental health; what is that the signs and symptoms to look after yourself but then it okay if I'm a small business advisor and I care for and want to support someone else how do I start that conversation and there's some really good practical examples in that and at the end of the day if you have any examples tips or tricks you know it's all about sitting there and focusing completely on them. It's nothing to do with you, it can't be about poor me, I haven't seen you for a while or why don't you get back to me when I email you? It's actually all about them, you have to take that approach, you have to listen and you have to ask questions and the most important thing that I say is just be genuine, read up about it but it's not 'I'm going to pick up a piece of paper and i'm going to read off this here' and 'I'm going to feel really uncomfortable and I'm going to have a conversation like I would normally have a conversation with Linda or with you Cam and I'm going to put it in Tim's speak and we're going to have a discussion.
There's no right or wrong but showing genuineness, showing care, showing concern in your support because 'Hi Linda I haven't seen any for awhile everything going on , how are things with you?' Simple stuff.
A gentleman in Melbourne that I know sent me a private message on Twitter during the last six months going 'Are you okay Tim, I haven't seen you on social anymore is everything?' How wonderful is that? It's just about the care you take. Yeah, I think this comes back to looking at some of the barriers that the people might face in deploying isn't all the barriers in feeling like they can do this is and this might align with one of the questions we had come through which is what is the boundary between being an empathetic advisor and overstepping the market? When do you hand someone over to a mental health specialist and when is it just to check in Linda I'd love to if you want to talk a bit about that and the general barriers people might face uh before we get into a little more question time at the end.
Linda: Just really quickly I think the goal of the training is to help people feel more comfortable having a conversation and to have some ideas of some of those supports out there that you might direct somebody to, it's not about turning people into counsellors and it's certainly not our job to try and diagnose or fix other people. Often it's about accompanying, it's about making a safe place where people feel supported and trusted. I'm mindful during Covid I've had 'Are you okay?' conversations with people and often they're getting help already and it can be that power of connecting with somebody over a troubling time. It might be me saying 'Hey Tim how you going? and he's like 'I'm all right, I'm getting help but thanks for reaching out.' I think sometimes that accompaniment is really powerful in itself especially in that small business context where so many people so often can feel so isolated and alone.
I think it's useful to think of support can come in many forms it can be about encouraging people to help seeking but it can also be practical assistance. It can sometimes be making people feel less alone and so the how to check in on somebody those barriers it's not diagnostic. I think as Tim said it's about being authentic, It's about reaching out to somebody as a person and also helping your businesses work together as well so all those things do you have anything to add on there.
Well I think we've covered it all. I think it's about the genuineness and it is not about being their counselor and it's also well it is one thing it's about understanding where you're going to stop, because you don't start diagnosing, you don't. But you know that again back to the training tool, it gives you so many support information and sometimes just passing that on can be where you stop um because you don't need to be you're not going to be their counsellor um but it's nice to feel that you're helping them and suggesting some things and often when they go everything's okay from their point of view that's an okay answer as well.
I think that that idea of not feeling, not knowing what to do or not feeling confident and giving yourself some permission to just to fumble a little bit with it but also to jump online and to i think one thing that you highlighted for me when we were chatting about like why online training for this and why not let people kind of learn face to face or through webinars or what it might be and there's a self-paced idea, but there's also the ability that that you can feel more confident with practice as you go and keep coming back to it.
I think that was something you highlighted with me Tim is that even though you're in the training a bit you've um you've come back to it a couple of times I think yeah, i think um one of the things I would encourage everybody to do is do the course but keep it in your toolkit as a go back to so for example there are four modules so you don't need to do them all at once. I've been through them a number of times now obviously I was on the pilot so I got to give lots of feedback but then I I've done the course in its entirety and there's still more for me to learn and so I think one of the great things is if we talk we're just talking about starting a conversation the module on that you would go back to and reference it and look at the tips and tricks and maybe jot down a few notes and have a think about it and that's what i love about it, to go back to and it sits there in your toolbox. Now some people might say well you've got websites and your information absolutely the thing I like about this is it's interactive so it kind of it takes you on a nice little journey and then it reminds you if you're kind of on track or not on track and there's no you know it's not it's not um measuring how good or bad you are in it but it's just saying no that's probably not the best approach let's go back and revisit that and i think that's really helpful and i again i just encourage people to to step into that realm and don't just do it once but go back to it and share it with people and and really just use it because every time you go back and even I've been like a couple of times i pick up something different right and even for me i learn something new.
I'm not a custodian of all the great ideas so when it comes to conversation so I think it's really really cool and I just think for small business advisors and small business it's something that's really it's just gathers everything together and it gives it to you in one spot i think so i'll do just a couple of quick fire questions before we wrap up so we can answer a few from people because i'm mindful of time especially on a Friday. I know people want to get work out the door and enjoy the weekend especially our Victorian counterparts who have got a bit more freedom now.
So just really quickly is there anything different or key for supporting people who might be going through dealing with grief and loss of their old pre-Covid life was one question that got put forward.
I think there's two parts of that I think firstly recognizing people have had a hard year and that it is such an important time to to recognize it and get support just like grief i think that was well. This is for some research around transition so people that are faced with different circumstances and coming back. I think it's the importance of hanging on to the good things in those transition points so I think it's that combination of get the support recognise what's happening um the challenges that's being faced and seek support but also finding those good things that either you still have or that are coming to hang on to um that's been I think important for me.
This one pops up quite often and I want to make sure that it's out there as well as, is there a clear definition between mental health and mental illness.
Another good question it's actually one of the first modules in the training that covers this off but the very high level answer is when we're talking about mental health we want to talk about a positive notion of health just like our physical health you can build up your mental health it's something we can positively influence and it's useful to think of your mental health as sitting on a spectrum and this all continuum and this idea of the continuums one in the training. But the key takeaways are it's not just black and white, people can move along the continuum.
I think over 2020 a lot of us have moved around for a fair bit on that continuum but noting that our mental health can be variable, but it can also be positively influenced so we want to help people wherever they are along that continuum and build them back up towards good health and that's something that all that they've been a few others pop through but i'll message those people and get them there.
What I am going to do now though is just drop a link into the chat for the Heads Up training resources and those pieces for people so they can access them straight away. I've thrown a link to the portal in there as well but you can find those there and I really do want to highlight this has been something that Beyond Blue has been working on way before when you we knew Covid would be here, they've been working on it for years and they've really consulted with the small business community on this as well as those who work with them the advisors and it's just wonderful to see it come to life so um i'll pull up the the thank you screen for both of you, but I wanted to highlight that and say thank you so much to both of you for your role in bringing this to life but also to everyone for jumping on and listening and please check out the resources, share them around, we're just really excited that there's something like this available for people at the moment. A quick thank you as well though to Xero who were a generous supporting partner who helped with their production expertise helped us bring this to life as well so big thank you to Xero and to go one and one last quick one from me if you have learnt anything today or found this webinar useful or the course useful please share that content out there we really implore and beg your help to spread the word around the availability of the resources. The more we can do to help each other.
That's fantastic, so yeah, thank you so much and one quick final comment from me personally, the more I've learnt about better mental health the more I've understood the impact, the more I've learned how to start a conversation the better person I've become and then becoming that better person you look after yourself so I'm very good at looking after myself and then you're in a great position to help other people so I would I absolutely encourage people to take that journey themselves um because you'll get a great feeling out of it for yourself and those are the people that you support will also get that as well.
Host: Thanks yeah, I couldn't agree more and thank you so much to both of you for your time today. Thank you to Beyond Blue, thank you to Xero for that as well um there are a host of podcasts and resources as well as this training that you've all pulled together so this recording I will say will be available on the portal as well as we'll be sharing it as well for anyone if you want to share it with them to let them know what's in there or to go over any of the examples that Tim and Linda have talked through and i think we'll end it there. Happy Friday everyone, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.