A Queensland-based startup has teamed up with Deakin University to deliver mental health training to help 5,000 business advisors recognise when a client might be in distress.

The ‘Counting on U’ program, run by Mentally Well Workplaces and Deakin University, in partnership with Beyond Blue, WorkSafe Victoria and other finance organisations, will deliver mental health first aid and relationship building training to thousands of accountants and businesses advisors.

With funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the organisations will be rolling out the program this year and next.

Tina Winchester, the director of mental health at Mentally Well Workplaces and Counting on U coordinator, said the training will help businesses advisors to better recognise when a client might be in financial or mental health distress.

“We are thrilled to work with Deakin Business School and other partner organisations to provide this essential mental health training,” Winchester said.

“The Counting on U program provides relationship building training to help financial services professionals grow their already solid relationships with SME clients and through the Blended Online Mental Health First Aid Course for financial services professionals, teaches participants signs that could be present in a person they are working with who may be experiencing financial distress.”

The organisations said the program would be a “vital step forward” for recognising how important mental health training is for business owners and employees around Australia.

Getting started

Mentally Well Workplaces was launched in 2018 when the four co-founders from the Career Development Centre joined forces.

The startup launched the first version of its evidence-based Workplace Mental Health in 2018 as part of a trial with select clients.

The program was then expanded, with the company offering custom courses to tens of thousands of employees in the UK, US, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Italy.

Mentally Well Workplaces now offers a “full suite of holistic mental health services and products”.

The startup’s mental health induction program offers training to improve awareness of mental health illnesses and to educate employers and employees on the impact to wellbeing.

The new partnership with Deakin University has been backed with a $2.238 million investment from the federal government, facilitating an expansion of the mental health training program to a further 4,000 accountants.

It involves the delivery of professional development across the sector for the participating trusted business advisors to better support the needs of SME owners, recognising that they are in a unique position to do so.

The course would normally cost up to $337 but is being offered for free as a result of the government funding.

Last year, a survey revealed that the majority of people think technology can help to address the devastating impact on mental health the COVID-19 pandemic has had.

More than 80 per cent of respondents to the survey said that technology like artificial intelligence can support their mental health better than humans in some ways, especially through automation and not having to disclose certain issues to people.

Also last year, Advance Queensland and River City Labs partnered to launch the Mental Health for Founders service, helping to match founders with an objective healthcare professional who can also provide tools to help entrepreneurs continue their startup journey.