Skip to content

Looking after your mental health during adverse events

Adverse events, such as natural disasters or public health crises, can have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of communities and individuals, especially small business owners.

Being directly or indirectly impacted by an adverse event, such as drought, bushfires or the COVID-19 outbreak can bring about a range of stressful thoughts, feelings and behaviours for individuals.

Small businesses can be impacted by adverse events in unique ways, as there is potential for damage to business premises and stock, loss or reduction of income, handling multiple insurance claims (i.e. personal and business), and disrupted trading conditions. Adverse events can therefore be quite stressful for small business owners, as well as being traumatic.

Noticing your signs

What are some of the signs small business owners should be looking out for that may indicate an impact on their mental health and wellbeing following an adverse event?

  • Behavioural and physical signs may include:
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Withdrawal from activities that the person enjoys
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in energy or activity levels
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in alcohol and/or drug use
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Loss of interest in personal appearance and hygiene
  • Pre-occupation around a particular issue or scenario
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event (dreams or flashbacks).

Practical tips to cope with stress and trauma

What can small business owners do to help cope with stress and trauma during and following an adverse event?

  • Talk to somebody you trust about how you are feeling
  • Do things that help you relax
  • Get active and maintain physical activity
  • Learn some breathing/relaxation exercises
  • Do something to help your community
  • Give yourself time
  • If you are struggling, seek professional help

Reaching out for support

While everyone reacts differently to traumatic experiences and memories, you may want to seek support from a GP or mental health professional and encourage others to do so if you notice signs of distress. If your daily functioning is seriously affected for over a month following an adverse event, it's important to talk to a GP or mental health professional.

There are a range of services available for small businesses and their owners who wish to seek business support or mental health support due to the impact of an adverse event.

Everyone can use a hand following an adverse event, and the sooner you access support, the sooner you can get back on your feet and your business back on track.

Learn more about coping with adverse events via the 'further reading' links below.

Do you have a resource for small business owners impacted by adverse events? Contact our team: [email protected]

Further reading

Support for businesses

The Australian Government has compiled a variety of resources to help businesses, including information on COVID-19 and workplace health and safety.

Dealing with stress

A brief article outlining some of the common symptoms of stress, as well as some self-care techniques you can implement to look after yourself.

Coping with traumatic events

If you have been impacted by a traumatic event, this page describes warning signs to look out for, as well as ways to cope with trauma.

Relaxation exercises

Beyond Blue has developed a series of breathing, muscle relaxation, and guided visualisation exercises to help you relax and cope with stress.

More Resources