Mental health resources for members

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In a recent survey about what is most important to our members, mental health impacts and support ranked in the top-five priorities, along with rebuilding in-store sales and growing online sales.

Rolling lockdowns and the broader impacts of Covid-19 have heightened these concerns but, as with other trends, the past 18 months has merely accelerated the momentum towards more open and honest conversations about mental health in our community.

In collaboration with Beyond Blue, the ARA has developed this online resource to connect our members with the information they need to:

  • identify and manage immediate mental health concerns,

  • address the underlying drivers of stress, anxiety and depression, and

  • improve wellbeing of their teams and rebuild the resilience of their businesses.

For immediate support in life threatening or crisis situations, call

Emergency services on 000

Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

White Ribbon on 1800 737 732 (1800 RESPECT)

MensLine on 1300 78 99 78


Self-care for small-business retailers

From a recent member survey, it is evident that there is still a lingering stigma around mental illness in some quarters, creating a barrier for some people seeking professional help or even opening up to a trusted friend or colleague. For others, finding the time to talk or finding someone to talk to are challenges that delay an open discussion about mental health issues.

This doesn’t mean that these people should go undiagnosed or untreated. In the ARA’s RUOK? Day webinar for 2021, Mel Novak from Beyond Blue talked about one dimension of self-care.

Firstly, take the time to reflect on what triggers your stress or anxiety – what are the specific events that occurred leading into a significant change in your mood? Secondly, develop a plan outlining what you can do (within your control) to minimise those triggers occurring. And thirdly, take positive action when those circumstances arise again – how can you respond positively rather than react negatively.

For more inspiration about self-care, go to the Beyond Blue website or click on this link.


Mental health coaching for small-business retailers

Approximately 95% of the ARA’s membership is small and medium sized retailers. In fact, most are family-run businesses with a single shopfront.

For many of these members, running a small business was stressful enough before the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of these stressors have intensified over the past 18 months, especially for those businesses directly impacted by sudden or extended lockdowns.

With data from Beyond Blue, we know that around a third of small business owners were feeling high levels of mental distress before the pandemic, with two/thirds of business owners now saying that Covid-19 has negatively impacted their emotional wellbeing.


To help provide more mental health support to small business, Beyond Blue has launched NewAccess for Small Business Owners – a free, confidential mental health coaching program that combines Low-intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with business coaching, to improve mental wellbeing and rebuild resilience.

Over six sessions, New Access coaches work with small business owners to provide practical tools that can help manage immediate challenges and break the cycle of negative and unhelpful thoughts that have the potential to escalate stress and anxiety into depression.

The program is open to anyone who owns a small business (with fewer than 20 employees) including sole traders. A referral from a GP is not required and all New Access coaches have a small business background.

For more information about the New Access program, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 945 301, go to the Beyond Blue New Access webpage, or click on this link.


Caring for those employed by small-business retailers

The advice from our RUOK? Day webinar was to let your team know that your door is always open if they want to talk, then listen when they open up.

Steve Plarre, CEO of Plarre Foods Group, said do not try to “fix” the problem – your job is to listen, validate and encourage your team member to seek support. This could be through your own Employee Assistance Program, or resources available on-line, or encouraging a conversation with their GP. Steve also encourages his team to celebrate the small wins and remind them that their “best is good enough” in challenging times.

And if its difficult for you to broach the topic with someone in your team that you’re worried about, the folks at RUOK? have provided a useful framework to start the conversation: ask RUOK? and ask again if you need to, listen without judgment, encourage action and (most importantly) follow-up. It’s a conversation that could change lives.

For more information go to


Support and advice for small-business retailers

The advice from the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, was to raise the alarm early. If your business is under significant financial pressure (and many are) don’t wait until it’s too late to save your business. He said “talk to you bank, talk to the ATO, talk to your landlord” and accept whatever help is on offer.

Go to or click on this link for advice on how to keep your business afloat, how to manage your business during times of uncertainty and how to get the support you may need to maintain your own emotional wellbeing and resilience.


To find out more about mental health impacts, strategies and support, click on the link below for our RUOK? Day webinar with Bruce Billson, Mel Novak and Steve Plarre. Sign up here.


Screenshot of Zoom webinar

If reading this article has raised any issues for you, call

Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36



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