Developed by Beyond Blue, Xero and Go1, the four-part online course has been specifically created for small-business advisers such as accountants and bookkeepers to help them recognise clients in need of support and how to have an empathetic conversation with them.
The course comes as accounting practitioners are increasingly being relied on as pseudo-psychologists as small-business clients continue to grapple with the economic fallout of COVID-19.
It also recognises the toll on the accounting profession as practitioners work longer hours to help clients understand and access the majority of stimulus measures including JobKeeper, the cash flow boost and a range of government grants.
As such, a segment of the course has been dedicated to helping advisers look after their own wellbeing in the workplace or at home.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and Beyond Blue board director Kate Carnell said accountants and bookkeepers are well positioned to recognise stressors faced by small-business owners.
“There has never been a tougher time to be in business and the psychological distress caused by this pandemic cannot be underestimated,” Ms Carnell said.
“This free online course offers small-business advisers information about what signs to look out for, how to start a conversation with a client they’re worried about and how to connect small-business owners to appropriate support. This practical support can save lives.
“It equips advisers with the tools and confidence they need to play a crucial support role that goes beyond financial advice.”
Xero, who has also released the course on its own platform, has found that close to half of all small-business owners are now concerned about their mental health and those of their employees.
“Running a business is a highly rewarding experience, but it can also have its challenges. Businesses regularly turn to their advisers during these challenging times and advisers often have to navigate tough conversations. In a year of great uncertainty, this has only been exacerbated,” said Rebecca Gravestock, director of people and performance, Xero Australia and Asia.
“The course has been designed to help advisers understand more about mental health and how to provide support to someone who might be struggling, without them falling into the role of a psychologist or counsellor.
“Importantly, it also provides some tips for advisers on how to look after their own mental health and wellbeing.”
Access the free course via Beyond Blue.
Xero advisers can access the course via Xero Central.
If you or anyone you know is in need of support, you can contact:
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.