Mental Health Services Targeted at Small Business


  • ThinkPlace
  • Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business


How can we ensure equal access to mental health services across Australian for small business owners?

ThinkPlace embarked with the Department of Jobs and Small Business, peak bodies, service providers and key stakeholders to transform a complex understanding of the mental health services for small business owners into an accessible, compelling set of visuals.

The visualisations were presented by the Minister for Small Business to the Prime Minister at a Roundtable with peak bodies and industry; and used to inform policy and planning.

They provided a unique perspective, allowing Roundtable participants to step inside the shoes of small business owners.

Key Features


ThinkPlace worked over four weeks to create heatmaps of mental health services specifically targeted to small business, transforming information from 180 mental health and business advisory services at the 2018 Small Business Mental Health Stakeholder Roundtable into a clear and compelling set of visuals targeted at policy makers and service providers. The heatmaps highlight the availabilities, gaps, overlaps and inconsistencies in the Australian mental health service system while enabling rich conversations about action to mitigate these problems; ensuring better targeting of mental health and business advisory services to small business owners.


By sensemaking and visualising a complex system in an accessible way ThinkPlace stimulated rich conversation and helped locate potential opportunities for development of consistent practices across the ecosystem. These findings were the first to visually and conscisely capture small business owner access to mental health and business advisory services at national and state levels. The maps clearly and effectively highlighted the clustering of different types of support services and identified gaps, allowing for a more informed discussion about future policy directions. Roundtable participants said the heatmap provided them with a unique perspective to drive their thinking, allowing them to step inside the shoes of a small business owner and their needs.


This highly collaborative project made use of ThinkPlace experience with co-design in the mental health domain. It tackled the difficult task of visualising a complex system and successfully synthesising information into a coherent and communicable message for audiences who could direct their decisions towards gaps in services highlighted by the visuals.


ThinkPlace worked closely with the Department as well as service providers like EveryMind and Beyond Blue to analyse the landscape of mental health service access for small business owners. Concurrently, ThinkPlace conducted workshops with policy makers, service providers, and one-on-one interviews with small business owners to get a holistic understanding of what and where the current gaps and opportunities were to inform future policy and decision making. This research was supported by desktop analysis of services availability across Australia. The information was synthesised into a series of insights before progressing into a visual representation in the form of a heatmap.

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