Accoladed Hunter leader Sarah Poissant opens up on her "mental unwellness", and how being authentic

Updated: 4 days ago

This article was written by Penelope Green for the Newcastle Herald.

FROM its "happiness committee" to its random acts of kindness initiative and focus on staff connection, Sarah Poissant's paediatric business The Rainbow Clinic was this year named Outstanding Employer of Choice at the Lake Macquarie Business Excellence Awards.

With 130 children on its wait list, the Charlestown clinic is thriving, offering occupational therapy to children of all ages with learning disabilities and diagnoses including Attention Deficit Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Yet the hard-earned accolade shines in stark contrast to 2016, when Mrs Poissant was burnt out and on the verge of a breakdown, two years after launching her business.

"We had expanded really quickly but we didn't have systems or values, we grew a bit too fast," recalls the 39-year-old mother-of-two, who has a formal diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and describes herself has a person who "has lived experience with mental unwellness".

To overhaul and improve her business systems, she partnered with Nicci Richman, a consultant whose business Audir specialises in neurodiversity, and Toni Knight, a psychotherapist, counsellor and consultant.

"We learnt so much - that we needed a practice manager, that values were important... we didn't have a toxic culture but there were a few tricky players," Mrs Poissant recalls.

"[Nicci and Toni] came in and helped put systems in place, set clear expectations, online performance reviews, employee satisfaction surveys, and far more. I call Nicci our care and wellbeing officer."