Let’s start a different conversation

Looking to better support clients, colleagues and your own wellbeing
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What is Counting on U (CoU)?

Finalist at the 2021 AFR Higher Education Awards for Industry Engagement

CoU is a first-of-its-kind training program from Deakin Business School which equips business finance professionals across Australia and New Zealand with the skills to build long-term, trusting relationships, navigate difficult client or customer conversations and look after themselves whilst supporting their clients and colleagues.

Beginning as a research program in 2021, CoU’s mission is to upskill trusted advisers to better support the financial and mental wellbeing of their small business owner (SME) clients.  The program was designed by the Business School in collaboration with workplace mental health researchers and industry partners in response to: 1) a growing body of research highlighting the connection between financial distress and poor mental health for SMEs, and 2) prominent accounting and bookkeeping professional bodies reporting on stressed members struggling to respond to, or cope with, distressed SME clients or unsure of what their responsibilities were when it came to duty of care.

CoU is premised on the theory of using key intermediaries to deliver mental health support to difficult-to-reach groups – in this case, SMEs – and encourage them to access professional support. Advisers like accountants and bookkeepers have often been identified as key intermediaries, with SMEs often reaching out to their finance professional for advice or support when financially distressed.

Like physical first aid, the program teaches participants how to become first responders in delivering mental first aid – that is, how to recognise someone in distress and how to support them until they can be referred on to appropriate professional help. A large focus of the course is also about setting boundaries with clients, protecting participants’ own wellbeing and learning how to look after themselves whilst looking after others.

In 2023, backed by two years of encouraging research outcomes and participant and trainer feedback, we are expanding beyond the research program to better equip all client-facing Australian and New Zealand business professionals to navigate challenging times and start a different conversation about mental health and wellbeing.



Watch Michael’s experience of the Counting on U research program

Pillars of CoU Training


Our client relationship building module is a core part of the program. Knowing the skills to build rapport and trust whilst delivering sometimes difficult messages to your customers and clients can take you from performing mere transactional services to forging long-term relationships, the backbone of every good business.

Mental Health First Aid®

Mental Health First Aid® (MHFA™) is the foundation course of the Counting on U experience.  Mental health, like general health needs to be cared for.  MHFA™ training equips you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to recognise and respond to someone experiencing a mental health problem or mental health crises.

Wellbeing and a Learning Network

Learn techniques to regulate your emotions and care for your wellbeing whilst you support others. Learn about the different organisations and types of mental health support and resources available to individuals, businesses, and organisations. Learn from a growing network of participants sharing their real-life experiences as well as from leading researchers and industry experts sharing their knowledge on the topic of workplace wellbeing and mental health. 

Ready to better support your clients, your team and yourself?  Find out more and register for training through our licensed training delivery partners – Mentally Well Workplaces in Australia, and Humanex in New Zealand.

Discounts available to members of Institute of Public Accountants, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand, Financial Planning Association, CPA Australia, Deakin alumni and for group bookings.

Bespoke Business Solutions

Custom-designed Counting on U modules are also available, tailored to individual organisations’ needs, built on evidence-based frameworks and in collaboration with Deakin’s team of researchers and implementation scientists. Learn more and get in touch