17th July, 2023

Free mental health support for small business owners in Australia


  • A report conducted in 2022 by the Australian Government on Small Business and Mental Health found there are high levels of mental ill-health within the small business sector.
  • The report surveyed 1,007 small business owners over six weeks and found that 22 per cent had been recently diagnosed with a mental ill-health condition.
  • Finding a balance between work, family and personal life in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns was a key stressor for respondents.
  • The report also found that 54 per cent of respondents said the cost of accessing support was a barrier. 49 per cent said a lack of time was the biggest obstacle, while 39 per cent said services did not understand the needs of small businesses.
  • In response, the Australian Government has funded a free and confidential mental health coaching program for small business owners in Australia.
  • Here’s what you need to know about the program and how to access it.

Mental Health for small business owners in Australia

What is the program?

NewAccess is a government-funded program designed by Beyond Blue and delivered by Richmond Fellowship Queensland. The program is for small business owners and sole traders operating within Australia.

How does NewAccess work?

Participants work one-on-one with a mental health coach over six sessions. The mental health coach has a background in small business, which means they have a solid understanding of the unique challenges faced by small business owners.

The mental health coach works with you, to help you manage stress and deal with feelings of overwhelm. They use a straight-forward problem-solving approach to support you and are specially trained to provide effective mental health coaching.

Why do small business owners need mental health support?

Operating a small business can be challenging, especially in today’s financial climate. Many small business owners are being faced with cash-flow problems, skills shortages and increased operating costs. Not to mention the loneliness that often comes with being a small business owner.

At times, it can feel like these demands are coming from all directions, and the pressure and stress can be overwhelming. Beyond Blue recognises that without healthy coping strategies, these challenges can put small business owners at risk of more serious mental health issues.

A mental health coach can help you feel less overwhelmed and stressed by the challenges that come with operating a small business. And they can help you navigate feelings of loneliness, as well as issues relating to health and relationships.

What does the program involve?

The NewAccess program is tailored to your personal needs. Your mental health coach will guide you through the program and provide you with activities to complete in between your sessions.

There are six sessions in total. The first session lasts one hour, then each subsequent weekly session lasts 30 minutes. After you have completed the program, your mental health coach will check-in with you to make sure you’re going okay and provide additional support.

Other important facts

  • The program is free of charge and completely confidential.
  • No GP referral is needed.
  • Coaching is via phone or video call.

Who is eligible for NewAccess?

To access the program you must be:

  • A small business owner or sole trader with 20 employees or less.
  • 18 years or older.
  • Not seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist currently.

How do I get started?

You can access the program by completing this form online.  A representative from Richmond Fellowship Queensland will then contact you within approximately two business days to discuss getting started.

More support is available

Here are more professional support services that help people dealing with mental health challenges in Australia.

Agency What they do Phone
Lifeline 24/7 phone counselling and referral service for anyone in a crisis. 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 24/7 support for people experiencing depression or anxiety. 1300 224 636
1800 RESPECT 24/7 phone support for victims of domestic/family violence and sexual assault. 1800 737 732
Mensline 24/7 phone support and referral service for men dealing with family and relationship issues. 1300 789 978
National Association of Community Legal Centres Legal support and services for people who are disadvantaged and individuals with special needs (02) 9160 9500
National Debt Hotline Free and confidential financial counselling for people dealing with financial difficulty 1800 007 007


Author: Bruce Insurance