MORE mental health support is available to the Bendigo businesses community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A mental health and wellbeing clinician has joined the Be.Bendigo team, in partnership with EACH and Bendigo Community Health Services, and with the help of the Victorian Government.
Members of the business community might be eligible for free mental health and wellbeing support for work-related anxiety and distress.
The service also includes financial counselling, as well as access to business advisors.
Be.Bendigo members, partners and their staff are eligible to access the service.
"It is free and they can have as many sessions as they need," Be.Bendigo chief executive Dennis Bice said.
Mr Bice said the initiative came about in response to the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic was having on businesses and the people involved.
"The government decided to fund a consultant or clinician to support businesses associated with chambers and business councils," Mr Bice said.
Be.Bendigo had noted high levels of stress and anxiety in the business community, particularly after COVID-19 restrictions were imposed, and during the strictest measures.
Mr Bice said people had been looking for support and assistance, but were not always sure where to go to get it.
Be.Bendigo reached out to Bendigo Community Health Services and the local Head to Help hub once was advised it would receive funding for a position.
Work towards establishing the position has been underway since about September.
"We're really pleased we've now got it in position and can offer that support to the business community," Mr Bice said.
Sharmi Cantwell started in the role earlier this month.
The program is funded until the end of June, but Mr Bice said there were early indications it would continue beyond then.
The position is based at the Head to Help hub at Bendigo Community Health's Kangaroo Flat premises.
The initiative ties in with the Partners in Wellbeing program, which offers "free support and advice to improve your wellbeing during COVID and beyond."
Mr Bice encouraged people interested in accessing the program to contact the Partners in Wellbeing hotline on 1300 375 330.
If you or someone you know needs crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If life is in danger, phone 000.
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