'It's ok to seek support': Message for small business owners
THE last 12 months have been tough for Troy Schoenfisch, yet despite personal heartbreak and a battle with mental health, he's managed to turn the experience into something positive.
The Ipswich born and bred former accountant lost everything last year when his marriage broke down and he was left with nothing.
Despite the odds, Troy decided to channel his despair into something good and opened up his own book keeping business which predominantly supports start-ups and small business owners.
He was also recently chosen as one of the Queensland faces for Beyond Blue's mental health campaign, Heads Up and said it was important small business owners and people in general ask for help if they needed it.
"I was still working full-time in September last year when I left to look after my wife who had multiple sclerosis which progressed really rapidly," Mr Schoenfisch said.
"We ended the marriage and I had no job, nowhere to live, no income or wife and I just had no idea what to do.
"I know my mental health triggers, so when I set up my book keeping business I knew that keeping busy was a good thing and working around other people was also important because isolation is another big trigger of mine.
"I also know when I need to slow down and take a few days off and I actually schedule that into my routine now."
Troy said he had suffered from anxiety and depression since he was a teenager, so the stress created as a result of his circumstances meant his mental health issues came back with a vengeance.
"I've had anxiety and depression pretty severely since I was 14, so during the break up and the last few months of 2016 I was spending a lot of time with family and friends and undertaking hypnosis and seeing a psychologist.
"One of the main issues for small business owners or people in general is acknowledging that it's ok if you're not feeling good because most people aren't going to reach out for help if they don't think its ok.
"This is the first time I'm speaking out about my mental health issues and it's important to get that message out there that there are a lot of steps on the path to mental health and they aren't always as severe as having suicidal thoughts, so it's ok to seek support and outsource help at any point you identify that."
Beyond Blue head of workplace research and development Nick Arvanitis said the Head's Up campaign was launched in May 2014 and its most recent campaign was launched after recognising a gap in the area of resources and information available to to small business owners regarding mental health issues.
"A large part of Heads Up is about raising awareness of mentally healthy workplaces and getting people to understand the issues preventing them from creating that," Mr Arvantis said.
"We recognised early on that we needed a more tailored approach for small business owners because their situation is unique in that they don't have the resources larger businesses have as most are sole traders and have specific challenges.
"We actually developed new web content which included three video case studies of three small business owners and how they look after their mental health and the mental health of their staff.
"We liked Troy's story because he really adopted a preventative approach and was able to recognise his own stressors like working in isolation.
"Isolation is quite common for sole traders and is an increasingly popular way people want to work, so his story was an interesting example of how the workplace is evolving in the 21st century."
Troy operates out of Springfield's Little Tokyo Two and Ipswich's Fire Station co-working spaces.
To read more about the Heads Up campaign, visit the website.