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New PhD scholar focussed on mental health in small business

Everymind’s new PhD scholar Bruce Nelson, has a diverse background including experience within health, aged care, palliative care, mental health and as a former small business owner.

Bruce is completing his PhD at the University of Newcastle and recently started working as part of The Prevention Hub on issues around small business and mental health.

“I am interested in mental health in the workplace and helping to support small business owners,” Bruce said.

“When I saw the PhD scholarship, I thought it would be a good opportunity to start a new phase of my career and enable me to contribute to evidence-informed mental health research.”

Bruce is particularly interested in studying the effects of adverse events, such as bush fires, floods and drought, as well as construction projects and events such as light rail and Supercars, on small businesses and the mental health of small business operators.

This interest began after he met people whose businesses had sustained both physical and financial damage due to flooding in Wallsend, as well as a woman who closed her business and moved to Australia following the Christchurch earthquake.

He said it was an eye opening experience to talk to people about their experiences and the strong emotions they still feel.

“People feel a lot of anger about adverse events, particularly if they don’t feel that issues such as flooding have been properly addressed,” he said.

“It’s hard for them to understand why they find themselves in such difficult positions through no fault of their own.

“The woman who left Christchurch was carrying around a tremendous amount of guilt because she was able to leave and start again, and she knew that many others could not.

“Those emotions weigh very heavily on people and can affect their mental health.”

At Everymind, Bruce will bring his wealth of experience to support research and programs related to supporting mental health for small business owners.

“I want to be able to contribute to the knowledge base about the impact of mental ill-health on small business and help translate that knowledge into strategies and interventions to assist small business owners in looking after their own mental health.”

Published: 28 February 2020

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