We’ve seen the flu, covid and allergies going around. It’s not hard to notice the way these illnesses can impact people and their ability to go about their daily lives. However, something that is often much harder to physically see in people are their struggles with mental health.
Even though the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 43.7% of people have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their life, workplaces aren’t often equipped to provide the support necessary to help their employees.
Often, a business or organisation simply doesn’t have the expertise necessary to make the best choices. That’s why they choose to call in for some extra help. A mental health consultant can guide businesses towards taking the right steps to foster a workplace that is supportive of its employees mental health. Afterall, this not only impacts individuals but the organisations they work for as well.
If you’re passionate about working in the mental health space and think you’ve got the right expertise, then starting your own mental health consulting business might be the right venture for you. There’s a number of legal considerations you need to be aware of first, so let’s get into that.
What Exactly Is A Mental Health Consultant?
A mental health consultant is someone that does advisory work for issues related to mental health. Consultants can be for individuals and groups of people, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on mental health consultants that specialise in helping businesses.
An employee’s mental health can directly impact the productivity, efficiency and overall success of a business. In 2022, Job Access (an agency of the Australian government) reported that businesses are losing a total of about $11 billion from simply being unable to properly respond to mental health issues with their employees.
A lot of employers are beginning to catch on. Unattended to mental health struggles in their employees impacts businesses in three core ways:
- Compensation claims
As a result, employers are looking for ways to support their employees’ mental health and provide them with solutions at work. In turn, employers are able to facilitate a much more positive and productive work environment.
As serious of an issue mental health is, not everyone can be an expert on it. This is where mental health consulting businesses come in. A mental health consulting business helps employers find the best possible ways to take care of their employees mental health needs.
What Is The Difference Between A Mental Health Consultant And A Therapist?
A therapist is a professional that usually sees individual clients or patients or is involved in researching human behaviour. They’re usually highly qualified and need to undertake some kind of training before they can be approved to practice.
A mental health consultant on the other hand, has a very different work day. You can often find mental health consultants working for businesses, providing insight and advice on the best ways to create an environment that is supportive of their employees mental wellbeing.
How Do You Become A Mental Health Consultant?
In order to become a mental health consultant for businesses in Australia, there’s no special study or training you’re required to undertake. Rather, it’s up to you as an individual to ensure you have or are working towards building the right skills set, expertise and experience.
Consider taking up studies that focus on mental health and business, as well as getting some real life work experience. Think about the areas you wish to specialise in and see if there’s any courses or experience you can pick up that will allow you to grow your knowledge.
Remember, clients are going to want someone that has proven they know what they’re doing so investing in your own knowledge is crucial.
How Do I Start A Mental Health Consulting Business?
When you’re ready, you’ll be able to take that first step towards getting your mental health business off the ground and running. We always recommend creating a business plan before taking any action. This way, you’ll have a place where all your research and ideas are organised. It can be much easier to stay on track when you have something you can look back on from time to time.
Once you have a solid plan in place, you can go ahead and start the process of registering your mental health consulting business.
The registration process for your business will depend on the legal structure your business is going to have. The most common types of business structures are:
- Sole trader
Registering A Company is a somewhat complex process. It involves following the regulations set out by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as well as adhering to specific requirements. It’s always best to have the help of a legal professional along the way as they can make sure everything is done the right way. On top of registration, a company has to meet some annual regulatory requirements. A legal expert is the best person to explain these responsibilities to you, so you can be on top of everything all year round.
Even though the process for registering a company is a little longer, you’ll have the benefit of your mental health consulting venture being a legal entity on its own. That means, your personal liability can be limited as the company is able to have legal matters to its name, earn profits, incur debt and own property.
Although, having a separate legal entity may not appeal to everyone. Instead, something simple and easy to manage might be more along the lines of what you’re looking for. If that’s the case, then you can always register your business as a sole trader. It’s a pretty simple process where you just need to go online and get an Australian Business Number (ABN). If you’re using a name other than your personal one, then you’ll need to Register A Business Name. After that, you’ll be all set to go. Keep in mind, when you operate as a sole trader, you will be personally responsible for the entire business as it’s not a separate legal entity.
Perhaps you were thinking of setting up your mental health consulting business with a partner? A business partnership can be exciting and promising but it’s important to protect both parties (and the business) with the right legal documents, such as a Partnership Agreement. Our legal experts are more than happy to help with that.
What Legal Documents Do I Need For A Mental Health Consulting Business?
After taking care of your business’s registration, the next step is to get the right legal documents in place. Contracts and other legal agreements are essential when it comes to keeping your business protected. We’ve listed a few key legal documents that are commonly drafted for consulting businesses below.
Consultancy Agreement:This will be the main agreement between you and your clients. It will set out expectations, key responsibilities and obligations as well as secure your revenue streams.
Business Terms and Conditions: You might want to consider getting business terms and conditions in place, as this will set the rules and regulations for anyone wishing to engage with your business. Having terms and conditions in place can be a great way to communicate important matters and limit your liability in case something goes wrong.
Employment Agreement: Eventually your business will begin to expand, so you might hire staff. Whenever you decide to do so, it’s important to start the relationship off with a well drafted employment contract. This way, both parties can be on the same page, which makes for a better working relationship.
The exact legal documents your mental health consulting business will require is dependent on your business’s unique needs. We recommend talking things through with a legal expert, so they can point you in the right direction.
Anything Other Legal Considerations I Should Know About?
Aside from registering your business correctly and getting your essential legal documents sorted, it’s important to look out for any other laws and regulations that might apply. For example, if you’re thinking of setting up your consulting business from home, then you’ll need to look up any zoning requirements or council permits you may need to attain first.
The exact regulatory requirements you will need to follow will depend on factors such as the business operations you have, your location and clients. It’s best to talk to a Regulatory Compliance Lawyer, so they can help you figure out the rules and regulations that will apply to your mental health consulting business. This way, you will have covered all the important legal considerations and can focus on running your business.
A mental health consulting business can be a great venture- it’s crucial you take care of all the legal considerations first, in order to give your business the best chance possible. To summarise what we’ve discussed:
- Mental health issues can have a significant impact on individuals and workplaces
- Many businesses lack the expertise to address mental health issues among their employees
- Mental health consultants specialise in helping businesses create supportive environments for their employees’ mental well-being
- Mental health consultants differ from therapists in terms of their focus and qualifications
- Becoming a mental health consultant for businesses in Australia does not require specific formal training but demands relevant skills and experience
- Creating a business plan is recommended before starting a mental health consulting business
- The registration process for the business depends on its legal structure, which can be a company, sole trader, or partnership
- Registering as a company involves complex legal requirements, while a sole trader is a simpler option
- A business partnership requires legal documents, such as a Partnership Agreement
- Consult with a legal expert to determine the necessary legal documents for your business
- Consider other legal considerations, such as zoning requirements and permits if operating from home
- Seek guidance from a Regulatory Compliance Lawyer to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations
If you would like a consultation on starting a mental health consulting business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or email@example.com for a free, no-obligations chat.
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