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Free workshops to support mental wellbeing for small businesses

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Free workshops to support mental wellbeing for small businesses

Small businesses across the Queenstown Lakes District can now sign up for the Southern Wellbeing Trust’s GoodYarn workshops which are designed to get small business staff talking about mental health and supporting their team’s mental wellbeing and resilience.

Six free small business mental health workshops will run in May and June thanks to a new partnership between the Southern Lakes Wellbeing Trust and the Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group.  Te Hau Toka is providing $16,000 to support operational costs and subsidise the delivery of six workshops across Queenstown and Wānaka over the next two months.

Destination Queenstown has also supported the programme, helping to fund the training and onboarding of the local industry facilitators who will help deliver the GoodYarn business workshops. 

The award-winning, evidence-based peer-to-peer GoodYarn programme has previously only been available for larger organisations and rural communities.  It has been specially adapted to suit Queenstown and Wānaka small businesses as part of the GoodYarn Pilot project, providing a unique opportunity for local businesses to help their leaders and staff talk about mental health in the workplace.   

The workshops are free to attend for staff and leaders from local businesses with 1 to 50 employees and will help people understand:

  • what mental health is and how to look after your mental health
  • how to talk to someone if you are concerned about their mental health
  • the signs and symptoms of mental stress and distress
  • information about where to go for support.

Up to 15 participants can attend each three-hour workshop and there are several different locations and time slots available to help business staff attend.  Queenstown and Wānaka cafes and other small business venues have been specially chosen as venues, to help the workshops to ‘give back’ and support the local business community as a whole.

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group Chair Adell Cox says the GoodYarn model is different to other mental health programmes because of its ‘by the community, for the community’ approach.

“Mental health has become a major focus for workplace safety and prioritising wellbeing has never been more important, given the challenges our community and our businesspeople have been facing.  We hope that these workshops will be of particular benefit to those in tourism, accommodation, hospitality and retail who have been doing it tough.

“Having a happy, healthy and supported team benefits both businesses and the people involved. We want to encourage wellbeing conversations to become the norm in workplaces so it’s important to give people the knowledge, tools and support to do that.”

Southern Wellbeing Trust General Manager Anna Dorsey says the GoodYarn workshops are interactive and inclusive and designed to be relevant to each audience and their experience. 

“Our peer facilitators include well-known and respected local businesspeople who are deeply embedded in the community so they know first-hand the challenges both businesses and our community are dealing with. That means they can really connect with their groups, talk their language and make workshop discussions real and relatable.

“As more people attend our GoodYarn workshops, whether they are from the business community, migrant community or are volunteers, it’s helping to create a ripple effect across the community, so that we can better support each other to stay well, which is good news for all of us,” says Ms Dorsey. “Highlighting the importance of mental health and wellbeing and giving people the knowledge and tools to look after themselves and others will keep our community well and build resilience for the future.”

For workshop dates, details, online registration and testimonials, visit


Photo caption: Anna Dorsey, General Manager of the Southern Wellbeing Trust, (left) and Jazz Braden, Small Business Facilitator, at the Sherwood Queenstown - one of the workshop venues.


Southern Wellbeing Trust
Southern Wellbeing Trust is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which was established after the first COVID lockdown in 2020 to assist with the wellbeing of the Queenstown Lakes community.

The business workshops are the next step in the Southern Wellbeing Trust’s GoodYarn Community programme which has peer-delivered mental wellbeing workshops to vulnerable groups, including migrants and new and expectant parents, since April 2021. More information here.

GoodYarn is an established and effective mental health education programme which trains people to better understand and talking openly about mental health and wellbeing, learn how to recognise common signs and symptoms of mental illness, and support those experiencing mental distress to access help. More information here.

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group
Information about the group and its initiatives here.