How small business can influence a big topic: mental health

October is Mental
Health Month, but this year the topic carries extra weight – especially for
small businesses. The wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 have pushed mental
health into the foreground, with financial hardship and isolation exacerbating
issues long hampered by stigma and myths.

These are issues that touch almost every corner of society, including small business. Not only are many small businesses deeply connected to the local communities where mental health issues tend to see their most immediate effects, but small-business owners themselves experience substantial pressure that can impact physical and mental well-being. This was an alarming reality for many entrepreneurs even before COVID-19, and even the 2020-21 Federal Budget reflected the urgency of the situation by allocating a $7 million boost in mental health support for small businesses.

The less these
issues are relegated to the shadows, the more productive discussions will be.
And, luckily, the topic is getting renewed attention. In our global survey with
YouGov, 92 per cent of people surveyed say it’s important for people to talk
about mental health. According to data across Getty Images’ platforms, customer
searches for images of “mental health” have been in the top 10 for ANZ over the
last six months, increasing a further 39 percent. We’ve also seen increased
searches around wellbeing (41 per cent), mindfulness (63 per cent) and self
care (136 per cent).

Although we have come a long way towards destigmatising conversations around mental health, there’s always more work to be done. We believe if you change the image you can change perceptions. But what role can small businesses play? And how do you ensure empathy and compassion is woven through your marketing in a way that feels relatable?

Making discussions
healthier through better visual choices

If your business is
going to address mental health, there’s a good chance visual communication will
come into play. Since most small businesses lack the marketing budgets of the
big guys, choosing the right images for marketing and advertising materials will

need to be more purposeful and considered.

That means avoiding stereotypical or stigmatising images, such as the standard photo of a person holding their head in their hands. It definitely means avoiding images that might be triggering for someone experiencing a mental health issue.

Here are a few tips
to keep in mind.

  • Look for sensitive, authentic portrayals. In a survey by SANE
    Australia, Australians experiencing mental health issues found stock imagery of
    pills to be the least fair or accurate. They also disagreed with using images
    of landscapes. Respondents reacted more positively to images that portrayed
    mental health in nuanced ways.
  • Don’t use images that could be triggering. Some types of
    mental health challenges can involve substance abuse or other dependency
    issues. Think twice before using photos that show items like alcohol,
    cigarettes or pills.
  • Avoid stigmatising imagery. Images meant to
    evoke fear – like those with knives, blood or any type of violence – can not
    only be triggering for some viewers but it can further stigmatise problems in
    unfair, inaccurate ways.
  • Choose images of everyday life. Mental health means
    something different to everyone. Showing everyday pleasures with real people
    and relatable moments provides endless possibilities. Whether it’s spending
    time with friends and family, caring for pets, connecting with nature or
    seeking help if needed. By modelling an authentic, inclusive vision of mental
    health, small businesses can connect with customers emotionally and leave them
    feeling empowered.

Mental health is a
topic with extra significance for many small business owners. As important
voices in their local communities, they have a crucial role to play in
dispelling stereotypes about what mental health issues look like and how we
should speak about them.

Petra O’Halloran, Creative Research Project Manager, iStock by Getty Images

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Privatisation of power in the Northern Territory a hot topic as election looms

Jonno Oakley, from Wagait Beach in Darwin, is fascinated by renewable energy and is opposed to privatising the Northern Territory’s government-owned electricity providers.

Mr Oakley put the question to the ABC in the You Ask, We Answer series ahead of the August 22 Territory election.

“What are the plans by parties to privatise Jacana Energy, Power Water Corp, and Territory Generation?” he said.

Mr Oakley refers to the three agencies as “the troika”, a Russian word meaning a powerful group of three, and believes that public ownership is essential in the “march to renewables”.

“If we lose public ownership of the troika, things will never be the same again,” he said.

Jonno Oakley wants the parties to put on record their privatisation plans for the NT Government’s three power companies.(Supplied: Jonno Oakley)

Why so worried?

Then-deputy chief minister Dave Tollner announced in 2013 the Giles Country Liberal Party (CLP) Government would structurally separate Power and Water Corporation into the three agencies.

TIO public meeting
People arrive at a public meeting to discuss the sale of the Territory Insurance Office in 2014.(Emma Canavan)

Mr Tollner said at the time: “This change will mean that potential new entrants will be able to operate on a level playing field and not have to compete with a monopoly operator”.

One extra retailer has since arrived.

“The CLP gave it a red-hot go when it split them into the troika,” Mr Oakley said.

The CLP went on to sell the Territory Insurance Office (TIO) to Allianz in 2014 and leased Darwin Port for 99 years to Chinese company Landbridge in 2015.

Are the parties going to privatise?

The major parties and the Greens all say they will not privatise the three providers.

“Unlike the CLP and Terry’s Alliance, who sold off Territory assets and will privatise power and water, Territory Labor will not privatise power water, TGen and Jacana,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

By ‘Terry’, Mr Gunner was referring to Terry Mills, the knifed CLP chief minister who became leader of the new Territory Alliance party, which includes former CLP deputy chief minister, Robyn Lambley.

Mr Mills said no plans for privatisation were on his party’s agenda.

Opposition Leader Lia Finnochiaro said the CLP was of the same view.

“[An] elected CLP Government will keep Power Water, Territory Generation and Jacana Energy in public hands,” she said.

closeup of Member for Nelson Gerry Wood looking at the camera
Gerry Wood is sceptical that the next government won’t weigh up the value of selling power assets.(ABC News: Jano Gibson)

So, case closed then?

Outgoing independent member for Nelson Gerry Wood has been the longest-serving NT politician with 19 years under his belt.

He was unopposed to the eventual sale of TIO and the port lease.

Mr Wood was against privatising the Territory’s electricity providers but said said it was a possibility.

“Definitely the CLP would think about it,” he said.

“Even Labor [would sell assets] if the debt is great enough.

Photo of two men looking to left of shot outside Darwin's Government House
Dave Tollner and Adam Giles were in Cabinet when the decision was made to break-up Power and Water Corporation in 2013.(ABC News: Steven Schubert)

Power to the people

NT power consultant Alan Langworthy said power privatisation has helped innovation in the Australian industry but he did not think it would happen in the Territory.

He has chaired the NT Government’s expert panel for the Roadmap to Renewables report and was the 2010 NT Senior Australian of the Year for his work in the global development of remote renewable energy.

“It’s my understanding [the Giles CLP Government] was trying to sell [power assets] off,” he said.

“They were in that frame of mind.

“I didn’t agree with the argument to break-up Power and Water but Treasury persuaded me it was a good idea.

phot from a height of a power station with the sea in the background
Territory Generation’s 279mW natural gas-fired 1986 Channel Island Power Station on Darwin Harbour.(Supplied: Territory Generation)

Renew or renewables?

Mr Langworthy warns the dark cloud looming is not privatisation, but the pressing need for restructure and to introduce more generators into the market, including private companies.

The 279-megawatt natural gas turbines at the NT’s biggest power station Channel Island are 34 years old and will be at their best-before date in 2027.

And the next government faces a big decision: renew or renewables?

“If the governments don’t do anything there’s going to be blackouts and chaos,” Mr Langworthy said.

“Will there be more private generation come into the system? It has to happen.”

Territory Generation chief executive Gerhard Laubsche is exploring his options.

Darkened streets in the Darwin CBD during a blackout across the city.
Darkened streets in the Darwin CBD during a lengthy blackout across the city on March 12, 2014.(ABC TV)

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