From XU Magazine, 
Issue 23

Mental Health and Wellbeing Q&A

We’re all in this together

We want to take this opportunity to explore and shine a light upon mental health and wellbeing within the Xero User community. As part of this we have been really lucky to sit down with some great mental health and wellbeing advocates from around the world. In this Q&A we deep dive into different services/support available around the world to help everyone and how you can support those in your business. As well as exploring how we can look at everyone as individuals and be sensitive toward their wellbeing needs. It’s great to be part of such an amazing community at this time where we can discuss these things so openly and honestly. I will leave it to our expert panel to take it from here…

XU: Are you able to start by telling us a little of your story and what brought you to be such an advocate for mental health?

CH: I was the kid who went to school to eat my lunch and play with my friends. I didn’t enjoy the academic side of things but I was hugely passionate about rugby. In my last year of high school I was selected to join the Crusaders academy and over the next few years I played both domestic and international rugby for Kiwi and international teams.

In 2003 I had a virus that attacked my heart when I was playing rugby in Europe. I was suffering from what’s called over-training syndrome. Somehow at the end of 2005 I got talked into playing for the Sevens again in the hope of playing at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. I wanted to keep playing badly, but my body was starting to give up again. A few months later I collapsed on the field in Hong Kong, and was rushed to hospital. After being forced into early retirement, my dream was crushed and it wasn’t easy to go through that.

It took a while for me to get back to working - I was a rugby player and that’s all I ever wanted to be. I questioned my identity, and that inner voice got louder - telling me I couldn’t provide for my family, that I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have a degree and didn’t know what I was doing etc.

After a few different jobs I landed at McFall Fuel and credit to my boss here - he recognised how much I was struggling and set up support for me in the form of an external business coach who was also a Psychologist.

Looking back, I’ve probably had battles with mental health all through my rugby career but it wasn’t until I started speaking with the psychologist that I developed the practical tools to help myself. This was a turning point for me and I’m hugely thankful for where I am today. I can say ‘I am OK today’ and believe my lived experience gives me the opportunity to be heard a bit more. I’m not always super comfortable sharing my story but I know it’s crucial if we want to change the way mental health is viewed - particularly in the business world.

NE: I had Mental Illness in childhood - namely OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) then GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) into teen & adult life.  This ‘high anxiety’ energy followed me into my Corporate life, largely unaddressed - until my ‘meltdown’ moment.  There are 2 reasons I got to that point - firstly, I was wearing a mask.  Trying to be what people wanted to see in me, trying to be what situations demanded of me - but I sure didn’t damn show myself!  Secondly, I didn’t schedule ‘recovery’ - we fill up our diaries with our work stuff, then our home stuff - but where do we feature in our own lives?  It was at that point I decided to step up, to tell my story & truly be heard.  I haven’t stopped Speaking since!

TH: I became a beyondblue speaker because as a small business owner I struggled with anxiety and depression. I learnt ways to manage this and decided I wanted to share my stories of hope. Owning and operating a small business can be challenging. At times it feels isolating with all responsibility resting on you as the owner. Business challenges with little or no support can build up creating the feeling of being overwhelmed and lacking control.

When I learnt how to look after my own mental health and well being, I wanted to share this with others. When I share my stories, I help to increase the community’s understanding about mental health. I encourage people to start a conversation about mental health with themselves or with others they are concerned about.

WB: As an athlete, I was taught to invest my time and energy into what is controllable. This lesson didn’t prevent me from making bad decisions, but it provided me with focus on finding ways to move forward. One of my favorite quotes comes from Mike Tyson, “everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.” The reality is that uncontrollable factors can become challenging and overwhelming for many people. This is where I believe we have the biggest responsibility towards one another. Nobody is immune from feeling overwhelmed, and it affects our mental health and wellbeing on different levels and in different ways. Our collective responsibility is to make sure we put emphasis on fostering a supportive environment, which allows people to place emphasis on wellness, and encourages practical steps for improving mental health.

XU: Are you able to start by telling us a little of your story and what made you talk recently about mental health?

RM: A lot has changed for me in the past 12 months. The accounting firm that I co-founded, Aptus Accounting & Advisory, joined a larger group - BusinessDEPOT and I have moved part time into a new world as the Head of Accounting at Practice Ignition (APAC). A few months after these changes happened, we were all impacted by COVID-19. I have always functioned in high pressure situations, but I found myself juggling huge client needs in the accounting firm, working through what my new roles in both organisations look like, becoming an educator for my children, all while we were effectively trapped at home. I had some really terrible moments, where the stress overwhelmed me, but I was lucky enough to have some wonderful people in my world that I could lean on. I knew that there was no way that I was alone in what I felt and was going through, and I decided to share my story as a way to encourage others and remind our community that they aren’t alone.

XU: It’s awesome to see how honestly and vulnerably you have spoken about mental health over the last 12 months, really helping to address mental health in a positive light for Xero and Xero users. Why do you feel it’s so important that we talk more about mental health and try to break any negative stereotypes around it?

CH: We’re in the guts of a mental health crisis. There is still a bias towards the negative connotation of mental health. When someone hears mental health they go straight to the bottom and think of the worst case scenario. But actually, the norm is everyone’s on the spectrum of mental wellness and some handle things better than others. If we can get rid of that myth, people everywhere could feel safer in terms of seeking support before they become a statistic.

XU: The mental wellbeing of people is very important at Xero. Can you tell me more about the support and programs Xero has put in place?

CH: Wellbeing is a huge part of Xero. We have a range of programs available to support our people, including:
- Xero Thrive: This course is run across our NZ offices, and is a four hour workshop to help build resilience.
- Team Psychological Safety: A series of workshops intended to educate and improve a team’s psychological safety
- High Performing Minds: This is an 8 week course (2 hours a week), run by BlueSkyMinds. It is designed to help employees with focus, productivity, communication and the ability to manage pressure. It’s underpinned by science based mindfulness and we have built a strategy for beginners through to experienced mindfulness activities. It includes one-hour introductory sessions, weekly drop-ins, refreshers, one-day retreats, internal mindfulness champions who keep it going. We also offer a lot of mindfulness resources on our internal help centre.
- Flourishing at Xero: This is a guide intended to educate and provide employees with information and tips on mental health.
- EAP: Our Employee Assistance Programme is offered in every region for 24/7 wellbeing support. Our people also have access to resources from Benestar, our NZ provider, as well as the use of an app in NZ, AU and UK, which offers further mental wellbeing resources.
- Wellbeing Leave: This initiative is about re-framing ‘sick’ leave to ‘wellbeing’ leave in order to take the stigma away from mental health. It recognises that you don’t have to be physically sick to need some time off.
- During October in NZ, we have a strong focus on mental wellbeing throughout the month. We hold a number of events relating to both mental health awareness week and world mental health day. There’s also a lot of communication about what’s available to our people as a reminder.
- We have also piloted a mental health first aid course for leaders in NZ and this is something we are looking into further.
- To help with the impact of covid-19, we created an internal wellbeing hub with useful resources for people to get through lockdown and adjust to remote working.

XU: Will, are you able to tell me more about the specific support that Xero Canada has for Xero Users?

WB: To support our small business and accounting and bookkeeping partners during COVID-19, we’ve activated a dedicated Business Continuity Hub. This contains a range of practical tools and resources, on topics ranging from getting access to advisors, understanding government relief, and mental health and wellbeing at work. We have a variety of online courses and videos that will help partners care for their physical and mental wellbeing during these challenging times. The courses cover topics such as building positive wellbeing habits, managing energy levels, and being resilient in a virtual world. Outside of our Business Continuity Hub, we’ve hosted yoga sessions and trivia nights for our partners in Canada to unwind and de-stress.

XU: Are you able to tell me more about Xero’s Wellbeing Programme? From my experience, it focuses on 5 pillars. It would be great if you could go into more depth on these.

CH: Broadly, we develop a calendar each year that focuses on two or three key topics each month. These topics sit under one of the pillars and range from seminars and activities to celebrations and information sharing. The ultimate outcome we’re looking to achieve is long-term positive behaviour change and our entire wellbeing program is oriented to that goal.

1) Physical Wellbeing – Get your body life-ready Every employee is entitled to a subsidised entry into a run/walk event each year, such as Round The Bays. We have gyms on site at our Auckland and Wellington office and offer discounted memberships to local gyms. Employees organise fitness classes such as yoga and pilates and we also subsidise employee-led sports teams. Flu shots are provided free of charge. Nutrition is a big focus, and our seminars on this topic are always popular. This year we’re looking to launch an employee-crowdsourced cook book.
2) Mental Wellbeing – Harness the power of the mind Other than our year-round Mindfulness programme, we have a culture of flexibility, allowing employees to balance their work and personal lives. Other than providing 24/7 support via EAP, our provider has a website and app full of great resources, aiming to proactively address concerns before they become issues. We also run various education sessions in partnership with our EAP provider. Each year, we run Pet Therapy sessions in our offices, where employees are able to spend time with cats or dogs. This year we launched a gratitude Slack channel, which has sparked some great communication. Finally, we are looking at initiatives to educate people on the importance of sleep and digital detoxing.
3) Social Wellbeing – Take social offline
This crosses over with some of our diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as cultural celebration and education days. We also host a family day each year, where employees can bring their family members along. We organise Easter egg hunts, blood donor drives and have a strong focus on volunteering in the community. Each employee is given one day of paid leave to give back to an organisation of their choice.
4) Financial Wellbeing – Peace of mind is priceless
We run various education initiatives on topics from retirement to financial planning. We facilitate onsite one-on-ones with independent financial planners. We also have banking benefits and provide life insurance to all employees.
5) Environmental Wellbeing – It only takes one action to start a ripple effect
The environment and sustainability is very important to a lot of Xeros. There’s always ongoing education with seminars and resources on the concept of reduce, reuse, recycle. Something that Xeros really enjoy is the green expos that we run each year where we invite companies that produce environmentally friendly products to host a stall

XU: Are you able to talk more through some of the statistics you recently published in the enabling wellbeing Canadian accounting professional image?

WB: We conducted our research earlier this year in January and were surprised to find that less than half of Canadian accountants and bookkeepers have daily habits that support their wellbeing. This was well before the economic impacts of COVID-19 were felt. Now, with stress at an all time high across the country, we saw a real opportunity to do good and extend our resources in a meaningful way to our community.

Our research found that accounting professionals report their biggest wellbeing struggle is their mental health (18%), followed by physical health challenges (12%) and managing finances at home (11.6%). While these were challenges before the pandemic hit, we have seen the critical role accountants and bookkeepers play in advising small business clients and helping guide them through these uncertain times. It can be difficult for accountants and bookkeepers to look after their wellbeing during this time. That’s why we see a lot of value focusing on mental health during this time and offering practical ways to lift up wellbeing, energy and mindset so we can best support our partners and communities.

XU: In NZ you are running the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP), are you able to tell me more about this programme and how it’s helped Xero Users to date?

CH: The Xero Assistance Programme (XAP) is a pilot programme that provides mental health support to Kiwi small businesses. We’ve partnered with Benestar, a global expert in mental health services, to provide XAP. XAP provides access to counselling in a way that suits the user - either telephone, online via video or live chat (in person was available prior to COVID-19) . It is available to all our accounting and bookkeeping partners, as well as Xero starter, standard and premium subscribers, their employees and their families - we estimate this is about 850,000 Kiwis. The service is 100% confidential and free of charge to the user.

Small businesses don’t have the same access to EAP programmes and resources that big businesses do, so we wanted to make it easy for them to get support. It’s also a place for our accounting and bookkeeping partners to point their clients to if they are going through a hard time. Now more than ever, it’s important that the small business community have that support available for their mental Wellbeing.

XU: I saw in a recent blog you spoke about ‘small habits that make a big impact on our wellbeing’. Are you able to talk us through this more and any tips that could help with this?

WB: When we conducted our research, we also found that when it comes to barriers to wellbeing, 42% of accounting professionals reported it was not having enough time. Studies suggest that tiny daily habits that can take as little as 30 seconds can have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing, so not having enough time is a barrier that can be conquered.

One of my favorite tips to improve wellbeing is to just take the time to breathe and give yourself a moment to relax. Find moments in your day where you can be present, pay active attention to your surroundings and get out of your head. Apps like Headspace and Calm are great to incorporate into daily routines.

Another easy tip to incorporate is recognizing and celebrating the wins, along with the lessons and learnings. It’s easy to get caught up in current events or business challenges. But something we say internally at Xero is you’re either winning or you’re learning. It’s important to celebrate both of those aspects because we’re all in this together. We need collaboration and community-based efforts to help everyone get through these challenges and look after themselves.

XU: The mental wellbeing/health of people is very important at Practice Ignition. Can you tell me more about the support that PI offers to its employees worldwide?

RM: Practice Ignition is an incredibly supportive environment to be a part of. I have shared more about myself publically in the last 6 months than I think I ever have. The confidence to do so comes from the support network at PI.  

From one of our team who wishes to remain anonymous “I can share that as a PI employee I was able to share my mental health challenges with my manager and was empowered to modify my work to support my treatment and recovery. We also now have a wellness channel and weekly updates on wellness shared with the global team.”

It is not just in these individual scenarios that PI offers support, there is a constant theme of this across the company globally and each team member has 1-1 catch-ups with their manager every month.

XU: Over the last year PI has seen a big growth in staff. What challenges do businesses face when growing and taking on new staff and how can we be aware of individuals health/wellbeing needs? Especially, without being in the same location as them.

RM: PI went from a team of 50 in 5 countries in August 2019, to 115+ in 6 countries just 9 months later. Culture is very important at PI, and knowing that a lot of hiring was going to commence, the whole team headed to Bali for an internal conference in 2019 to set the company’s values, talk through challenges of scaling and make sure that each team member knew they were valued and had a chance to speak freely. By making the team aware of what was about to happen, everyone did the PI thing and looked to help those that were starting and getting them settled as quickly as possible. I experienced this first hand when I joined PI and immediately felt at home.

It was also important that the first few hires were in the newly created People + Culture team - providing the framework to make sure there was a single safe place for any concerns and issues. The company has had incredibly low turnover and continues to hire to round out the team as it needs.

In 2014 PI had 6 employees when they opened their first office and in 2015 they were a team of 10 over 4 countries. The company was built to support people working from home in remote locations and Guy Pearson and the executive team continues to support remote employees by:

1) Providing a safe space for communication on how people are feeling through many employee feedback tools
2) Having a wellness channel + separate jokes channel in your internal communications to make sure people can share what they’ve found useful
3) Having regular check ins with the team
4) Having clear goals for the team/s so people know what success looks like
5) Take feedback from #1 and put it into action
6) Have your values set in place and live them.

However no one planned for Covid. Along with isolation, distancing and the inability to have a chat around the proverbial water cooler, there’s no way everything can be executed to perfection in that situation, but the company always tries to listen to feedback and act relatively quickly.

The team quickly came up with some great ideas to keep us all connected and healthy, a #Wellness channel in our company slack, we have monthly Friday drinks virtually (with guests + entertainment), a Social Suite survey to gauge who needs what, a home office allowance was put in place quickly to get people setup to work at home, various buddy systems are put in place, there are flexible hours (especially for parents with kids) and lastly a stress leave day is added to leave allowance monthly to make sure folks can take a time out when they need it and reset.

XU: Tim, I know you are an ambassador, and speak, for Beyond Blue. Are you able to tell us more about the amazing work Beyond Blue does in Australia?

TH: Beyond Blue is a national organisation that works to raise awareness about anxiety and depression, reduce the associated stigma and encourage people to get help. They provide information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.

Beyond Blue is a trusted source of information and support on suicide prevention, they provide information to people at risk of suicide or who have attempted to take their life with support options, and give practical advice for people worried about someone they think might be suicidal on how to help.

XU: Are you able to speak more about the services and resources that are available with Beyond Blue to help employees and employers with mental health in Australia?

TH: We all have good days and bad days. Then there are those days when something isn’t quite right, you’ve got something on your mind, or things just seem too much. Whatever it may be, sharing the load with someone else can really help. So no matter who you are, or how you’re feeling, you can talk it through with Beyond Blue – they will point you in the right direction so you can seek further support.

They provide amazing services:
- Talk to a trained mental health professional at their support centre that operates 24 hours 7 days a week - 1300 22 4636
- Chat online between 3pm and 12am for short-term counselling, information and referrals for anxiety and depression
- Joining their online forums in their online community. This is all about supporting and learning from each other.
- www.headsup.org.au provides resources for employers, employees, managers and small business. They provide training and resources for healthy workplaces. It includes a great section on how to support others in small businesses who you are concerned about.

XU: Nick, as part of your job you travel the country (UK) and run a lot of seminars and workshops talking about mental health. What challenges have you experienced to keep speaking and educating people on mental health?

NE: The biggest challenge for me is to ensure my self-awareness remains high.  I give SO much when I speak, coach, mentor or engage with people - and as a natural introvert who recharges in my own company - it takes a LOT of me!  So I need to ring-fence my alone time, to recover, recharge & go again strong tomorrow.  Essentially in life - people just want to be heard & understood - when we do that, it’d be very easy to take the burden of their challenges on our shoulders.  That is why we need to remind ourselves that people aren’t coming to us to be fixed (unless we are medical professionals!) - but to be heard.  That is why our sole responsibility is to actively listen then actively signpost.

XU: A massive part of what you do is on social media and digital. How important is social media to help spread the message and education of mental health and is there a risk it can be negative as well?

NE: Social Media can be THE biggest anxiety trigger.  It also can be THE biggest source of positive community.  So - it’s not the platforms - it’s how we immerse ourselves in those platforms - and who chooses what we engage with?  We do!  The first thing we give away in life is choice - especially when we are struggling with Mental Health - but also low self-esteem, low-self confidence & when we lack self-belief.  Social Media is a powerful tool for good - but only when pointed in the right direction!  My only concern with it really is that people can use it as a way to open up - but without the support or inspiration there to catch them.  It can easily turn into a mosh pit of despair!  The challenge is not mistaking online for ‘real life’ when reaching out for help.

XU: One of the quotes I have seen from you is “BIG man, BIG story, BRUTAL honesty! Inspirational Speaker on the Lived Experience of Mental Health”. I found this to be a very vulnerable insight into who you are and the journey that you have been on. How important is it for us to embrace who we are as an individual and how other people will be different from us in a positive way?

NE: I firmly believe that vulnerability is a superpower when practiced daily.  When we give more of ourselves we build an instant bridge of trust with the person we are talking to, our audiences - even our clients.  Plus, no one then has anything on us.  Seriously, I have stood up in front of thousands of people & shared with them something I have never shared elsewhere - because it felt the right time, the right place & it was in my head.  The truth is liberating.  If we don’t show the world our true selves, how does the world know how to help us?  If we aren’t living a life on our terms - by default we are living a life on someone elses terms.  Now for me, that’s far more scary than vulnerability!

XU: One of the big impacts that come from people working from home more is loneliness. Do you have any advice/guidance that can help people suffering from being alone and the negative effects this can have? Also, how can we help anyone who is struggling with this?

RM: With anything in life I think that being aware of a situation is the first step. You don’t actually have to be at home by yourself to still feel isolated and lonely. The forced and swift nature of the changes so many of us have had to make can be unsettling and has removed people from their usual environments. So even if you are at home with your whole family you can still feel alone, and i think that is important to acknowledge. If you are feeling this way I would encourage you to reach out and talk about it. There are so many groups and communities online across the globe that are popping up to share stories and their journeys, or even just to have a laugh together. These groups mostly use zoom or other video conferencing, so you can still see the other people “in the room” and have been a huge support to me.

However if the way that you are feeling is overwhelming and you don’t feel you can talk to any of these groups or other people in your life, i absolutely encourage you to contact a mental health professional or a mental wellbeing support service such as Beyond Blue or Lifeline in Australia.

TH: For our team members, there are a few things Xero Canada has been doing to have some fun and stay connected. We have team members who lead weekly yoga classes, daily stretching sessions and we end the week with a virtual happy hour and team trivia. We’ve also started “Themed Tuesdays” with challenges for people to dress like their favorite decade, recreate a famous visual work and more. While these might seem like small actions, they can make a big difference in helping keep up the “virtual water cooler” and helping people stay in positive spirits.

Working from home has become mandatory for many people. In a lot of cases it is a new way of working as most people regularly work together in an office. Structure, routine and boundaries are important to ensure we stay connected and do not overwork ourselves.
- maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting time limits
- create a separate office or workspace, if possible
- move around every hour, and go outside once a day (if it’s responsible to do so)
- keep connected to colleagues and communicate daily with your manager
- set a work schedule for the day and stick to it
- shower, and dress comfortably, as if you’re going to the office
- keep the kitchen stocked with healthy snacks and meals.
- make daily exercise an important part of your day

If concerned about someone who is working from home, you should immediately contact them and talk through ways of supporting them while they work remotely.

XU: Right now accountants and bookkeepers are the key workers for their clients’ businesses. Some clients are more vulnerable than ever as they are going through these times. This can lead to struggles with health, wellbeing or loneliness. What support does Xero have to enable accountants and bookkeepers to support their clients specifically with these struggles at these times?

WB: At Xero, people come first. Amidst all the uncertainty of the pandemic, it is more critical than ever that business owners and their advisors stop to think about the mental wellness of themselves and their people. That was one of the reasons why we participated in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual Mental Health Week in Canada. For us, the week was about taking the time to support our accounting professionals and help them prioritize wellbeing and build good ongoing practices they can use now and throughout the rest of the year. We know our community plays a big role in supporting one another and we wanted to help create a space where people could talk openly about wellbeing and mental health challenges. During Mental Health Week, we encouraged our partners and team to share tips and tricks around mental health and compiled some best practices into this infographic. It was inspiring seeing these conversations happen, and that’s something we hope to continue through our events like Xero Hours in Canada, which let accountants and bookkeepers in the Xero community come together to connect and learn from each other.

XU: Why is it so important that we talk more about mental health and trying to break any negative stereotypes around it?

NE: It’s massively important.  As I speak from ‘Lived Experience’ I see my role in life as being the vehicle that takes people from a challenge to a solution - but not the actual solution.  Only through people talking, sharing, showing vulnerability - will people get the courage to take off that mask - to start to question & break their conditioning - and most importantly inspire people to use their adversity as a catalyst for positive change.  My business name is ‘Forging People’ - it came from a line in my Keynote Seminar ‘Talking Anxiety’ - in life, we either let our challenges define us negatively for the rest of our days - or we CHOOSE to allow it to forge something beautiful, something powerful - that wouldn’t exist without you going through your **** - THEN it all makes sense!  Keep talking everyone!

RM: A very large portion of our population suffers from mental health concerns. According to Beyond Blue, 1 in 6 Australians are suffering from either anxiety or depression right now. This is not isolated to just Australia and similar statistics are prevalent globally. Although mental health issues are so common, it still carries a large stigma and people can shy away from talking about it. It is important to break these stereotypes so that people that are suffering feel more comfortable to seek out the help that they need.

Many people don’t understand how diverse the mental health spectrum is, and lots of things can lead to poor mental health.I spent a large part of my life not understanding this, and as I learnt more about it and shed my misconceptions, relationships I had with people in my life (and myself) improved greatly.

TH: Depression and anxiety are common and treatable conditions. Support is available and it’s important to seek support early – the sooner the better. With the right treatment, most people recover. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety so that you can monitor your feelings and behaviours, and also look out for those around you.

If you think you may be depressed or have an anxiety condition, or you know someone who might, talk about it and seek help from a General Practitioner or other mental health professional. A common misconception is that people with depression or anxiety can just ‘snap out of it’, or that depression and anxiety indicate a weakness of character.


Depression and anxiety are illnesses, not weaknesses, and people shouldn’t feel ashamed to speak up and seek help early.

XU: One of the positives we have seen to come out of these uncertain times is that more people seem to be wanting to speak and learn more about mental health. What piece of advice can you give us that we can do daily to impact and make a difference in a positive way, to people suffering from mental health?

RM: I always come back to the basics. Be kind to each other and treat others the way that you would like to be treated. You often don’t understand the reasons people behave the way they do or what is going on in their world. Empathy and compassion can change a conversation or someone’s actions in a very positive way. You also need to remember to take care of yourself. If you don’t prioritise your own mental health and focus on your own anxiety and stress reduction strategies, you will not be able to help those around you.

TH: Understanding the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety is a great place to start if you are to effectively support others. This way you can monitor the behaviours of those around you.

There are a number of ways you can support your teams and those you are concerned about
- Creating healthy workplaces. This can be achieved by encouraging the creation of personal and workplace wellbeing plans for small business owners who work alone or employ staff. This helps support everyone within those businesses.
- Sometimes the most difficult thing when provided support is just working out how to start a conversation. It’s important to choose a time when you’re both free to talk and a place where you both feel comfortable, keep relaxed body language and keep up the eye contact to let them know you’re listening, and use open-ended questions to open up the conversation.
- Supporting someone can at times be challenging. Maintaining empathy, purpose and positivity in equal measures, will be vital.
- Staying connected and starting a conversation may just be the best conversation you can have with someone you are concerned about.

XU: Lastly, every person is different and needs support in different ways. However, are you able to offer some advice on how we can support people with their mental health and wellbeing?

RM: What is really important to remember is that I am not a mental health expert, and neither are many people that may find themselves on the other side of a conversation with someone that is struggling. The best thing that you can do is be supportive and help that person access the services that they need, this may be professional help. Don’t feel that you need to solve all of their problems yourself and don’t hesitate to reach out to mental health services.

WB: You’re absolutely right, mental health impacts everyone differently and everyone has their own unique personal challenges. I believe we have a collective ownership and responsibility to work together and support each other. One thing I do with my teams is ask a simple question, “How are you doing?.” It’s a question I’ll ask not just once, but I’ll follow up on it or try to reinforce it in my conversations with someone. I think this approach lets people see that they have a safe space to share what they’re going through or open up about any challenges, and allows people to have productive conversations.

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