Newcastle psychologist's study into resilience in business promises to unlock the key to how firms best cope with stress

Working on resilience: Newcastle psychologist Anne Ward is researching how small businesses best thrive. Picture: Penelope Green

Working on resilience: Newcastle psychologist Anne Ward is researching how small businesses best thrive. Picture: Penelope Green

RESEARCH that examines resilience in Hunter small businesses promises to unlock the key to why some small firms cope better with stress and how others may be able to better tackle it.

Newcastle psychologist Anne Ward of MindInsight is urging Hunter SMEs to set aside 15 minutes of time to complete a survey, a part of her Masters of Clinical Psychology degree, that aims to shed light on how small business owners experience and manage the demands of their daily operations. 

Ms Ward says that while a great deal of effort had been invested in supporting mental health in larger organisations, small businesses had been neglected and, due to their unique demands, could not simply adopt the model used by corporations. 

“Due to multiple roles and their sense of responsibility to employees, small business owners may continue to work rather than seek assistance,” she says.

“This can result in presenteeism – being physically present at work but mentally absent – which lowers productivity.”

A trained accountant before graduating with a psychology degree a decade ago, Mrs Ward worked at length in Sydney in leadership development and cultural change.

She relocated to Newcastle in 2013 and established her private psychology practice MindInsight, which offers individual counselling, but her interest in leadership and business drove her to undertake research into resilience in SMEs for her Masters. 

Small business accounts for 97 per cent of business in Australia and close to half of private sector employment.

Mrs Ward said that although it brought many rewards, it placed unique demands on individuals and was linked to high levels of stress, burnout, depression and other health problems. 

Recent research showed that more than a third of small business owners reported high levels of psychological distress. 

Responses to Mrs Ward’s study can be anonymous and participation will help obtain the volume of responses needed to ensure valid conclusions can be drawn from the data.

She will then release an executive summary of the results which will be made available to Chamber members and potentially used to for educational purposes.

To take part in the study go to mindinsight.com.au/survey.

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