Mental health a major concern for small-business owners

proactive, advisers, workplace mental health

Almost half Australia’s SME owners have acknowledged that they have experienced anxiety or depression from the pressure of running their own business, and a quarter of them rate their mental health as their number one concern, according to new research.

The latest MYOB Business Monitor, which surveyed over 1000 small-business owners and operators, reveals that coping with managing their business over the last 12 months has led to more than half (52 per cent) of our SME owners feeling stressed, a rise of seven percentage points since this time last year. In the latest survey 45 per cent have suffered anxiety, and 26 per cent said experienced depression, six percentage points higher than was the case in June 2020.

Hardest hit are the owners of businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors, with more than two thirds (68 per cent) of them saying that they have experienced stress navigating their businesses through the pandemic. And in those sectors, 57 per cent of owners have experienced anxiety and 45 per cent have suffered feelings of depression.

MYOB Chief Employee Experience Officer, Helen Lea, highlighted the importance of acknowledging the impacts of COVID on the mental health of the country’s 2.29 million small businesses.

“As rewarding as it can be, running a small business brings with it a range of stressors and challenges at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a pandemic,” Lea said. “Last year was trying for small businesses and the data shows owners and operators may be feeling its effects for some time to come.

“As some businesses come out the other side of the pandemic and move from recovery to growth, we want to remind small businesses of the tools available to them to help manage their mental health,” Lea added.

MYOB and Smiling Mind, a not-for-profit specialising in mental health, have come together to create mindfulness activities specifically designed for small-business owners. The activities are targeted on improving areas such as stress management, relationships and resilience.

“As the lifeblood of the Australian economy, small businesses need environments in which they can thrive, eliminating points of stress where possible,” Lea said.

“This might include scheduling proper down time or incorporating time to exercise or meditate into your day.”

Small-business owners are urged to avail themselves of mental-health services including NewAccess, developed by Beyond Blue, the Smiling Mind Small Business Program and Lifeline.