Maitland-based accountant Brodie White is using the experience gained from Deakin University’s Counting On U mental health program to help others.
The initiative, which focuses on improving welfare among small-to-medium (SME) business owners across Australia, provides approximately 4,500 professionals with the training they need to promote better wellbeing at a management level.
Ms White, from Hunter bookkeeping and accounting firm Balanced Beans, admitted she was honoured to contribute to the program.
“I am deeply passionate about seeking positive mental health reinforcements for business owners, as I have seen the toll it can take on people when it’s ignored,” she said.
“My dad was self-employed and, although he took pride in his work, I witnessed the daily stress and the impact this had on his health.
“I also had a client who took their life in their early 20s due to business and financial pressure.
“These events have helped drive my passion to become an advocate for better mental health support for business owners.
“So, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in a program that helps to combat these issues.
“I can only hope it assists other people in business achieve better quality of life.”
According to a study commissioned by the Department of Industry, Science Energy and Resources, nearly one in three SME business owners have experienced stress, depression, or anxiety in the past 12 months.
Deakin University is offering business advisors (including accountants, bookkeepers, financial planners, auditors, tax advisors and insolvency experts) the opportunity to enrol in the Counting On U program, which combines mental health first-aid and relationship-building training – all of which will be free to eligible participants.
Benefits of completing the training include gaining insights into how to look after your own health and wellbeing while also supporting the mental health of others in and outside the workplace.
It also provides an opportunity to establish a network of peers who can provide mentoring and support on shared issues relating to your own or clients’ wellbeing.
Ms White has completed her training and is now a qualified mental health first aider.
As an advisor, she is feeling more empowered and capable of having difficult discussions with her clients if she notices a change in their mental health.
“This course has given me the essential skills to be able to recognise a potential issue – and act on it,” the accountant said.
“I have already been in a situation where I was able to apply this training, and I feel that it has provided me with invaluable skills for both my personal and professional life.
“My role as a mental health first aider also closely aligns with my personal values – reflecting my concern for my clients’ overall wellbeing, not just their financial affairs.”
Ms White said she was eager to take off her financial advisor hat and show people a different side.
“I conducted a pitch at Stanford University pre-COVID last year and I chose to focus on mental health initiatives to better improve the mental wellbeing of business owners,” she explained.
“I am very excited to have this kind of opportunity and I think it is great for people to know that there is a more human side to business advisors, like me.”
SME business owners who are interested in this program are encouraged to visit the Counting On U website to register.
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