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Help on its way for Orange business owners struggling psychologically after two years of stress

Jack Evans at Worklocker on Peisley Street on Friday. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

Business people in Orange are increasingly seeking mental health support following two years of stress and uncertainty.

"From Covid to floods and international unrest, the past two years have had an impact on the mental health of the community," said not-for-profit group Business Orange.

"Through open discussions with members, Business Orange has seen an increasing need for mental health support skills within businesses in Orange."

The business group has linked with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) to host a Workplace Mental Health Support Skills Workshop on March 28 (full details below).

“Just checking in and having general conversations with local business owners and employees, some people are struggling, feel a bit down and are not themselves,” Business Orange president and Orange City councillor Jack Evans said.

He told The Orange News Examiner that he had walked the main street to gauge the feeling among business owners and operators.

The recent steep rise in the price of petrol, and the inevitable knock-on effect for distributors, wholesalers and retailers, had compounded other factors such as Covid and the floods, feeding into a sense that the city remained in a type of limbo.

One shop owner told us on Friday morning that although trading conditions were challenging, he preferred to look at what was happening in the north of the state and in Ukraine and count his blessings.

Board member for Business Orange Jo McRae said the workshop was "not just about supplying the phone number for a mental health hotline".

"We want to ensure that if employers are asking their staff if they, and their mental health, are OK, that they are well-equipped to handle the conversation and situation that could follow.”

The Black Dog Institute states that, "one in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder".

The institute says these three types of mental illness often occur in combination.

"For example, a person with an anxiety disorder could also develop depression, or a person with depression might misuse alcohol or other drugs, in an effort to self-medicate."

Of the 20 percent of Australians with a mental illness in any one year, 11.5 percent have one disorder and 8.5 percent have two or more disorders, the institute says, adding that 45 percent of Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

The ABC reported in February that a survey by the Australian Psychological Society showed that one in three psychologists "are now so busy they've had to close their books, compared to one in 100 before the pandemic. Three out of four psychologists now have waitlists and are turning people away".

"In regional areas the situation is even more dire because there are fewer psychologists and more patients that need to see people," Zena Burgess, the CEO of the Australian Psychological Society, told the national broadcaster.

RAMHP says people living in rural areas "are more likely to seek help from people they trust, such as their agents, suppliers, sales representatives, local community and support groups.

"We provide these people with the skills and confidence to help link people to mental health support.“

Workshop participants will learn:

* The meaning of wellbeing and mental health;

* How to approach someone who is struggling with their wellbeing or mental health;

* Skills in communicating with a person who is struggling;

* The impact of stress and anxiety;

* Strategies to minimise the negative impacts of stress and anxiety.

* Skills to de-escalate heightened emotions of individuals;

* Where to find health services for a person who needs further help;

* The sign that a person may be at risk of self-harm or of taking their own life;

* Strategies for improved self-care.

Morning tea and lunch is included.


Monday March 28, 2022 9am - 1:30pm

Orange Ex-Services' Club, Green House Function Room 231-243 Anson Street, Orange

More information:

If this story has raised concerns, there is help available:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Headspace: 1800 650 890

MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78


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