Spare a thought for your boss!
We know that the mental health of all of us has been under tremendous strain these last 18 months. It’s been a time of stress and change that very few of us have ever experienced before. Mental health has been a topic that was so often in the past associated with shame and perceived as weakness but is now recognised as a normal experience many have to deal with as best they can.
Employers are now frequently reminded of their responsibility to consider the mental health of their employees and can access various toolboxes to help support them with depression, anxiety and other difficult issues and this is of course absolutely vital.
However, who thinks about the mental health of their boss during this time? Simply Business, the UK Business Insurance firm, recently surveyed almost 800 small business owners in the UK and found that 82% reported poor mental health in the last 12 months. In fact, more than half of all business owners suffered from anxiety, 62% have been affected by stress, and 30% experienced depression.
For small business owners across all industries, it’s been a period of sustained uncertainty – uncertainty around finances, uncertainty around rules and restrictions, adjusting to managing staff who are remote working, whether to maintain or downsize business premises, dealing with complex financial information around grants and loans, uncertainty around their livelihoods and futures. The added sense of responsibility for their employees, maintaining contact through furlough, difficult decisions around redundancy – these can add up to unbearable stress for some.
Even in ‘normal’ times the mental health of entrepreneurs is an under-acknowledged issue: researchers at the University of California found that 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed were dealing with at least one mental illness (such as ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, addiction, depression, or anxiety) and about one third of entrepreneurs struggle with 2 or more mental illnesses. But how often is this openly talked about or admitted to?
I won’t repeat here the well-proven recommendations for good mental health – there are many excellent websites including: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health
I would just suggest that respecting the mental health of entrepreneurs and business owners should be acknowledged as another equally important part of the journey back to ‘normal’ after the pandemic and addressed as an important part of the on-going quest to improve the health of the nation.
Author: Julia Hughes - 9th August 2021