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Small Business Mental Health: You’re Not Alone

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Running a small business is no easy feat. As rewarding as it is to build a business and work for yourself, there are a large number of challenges that arise along the way. These challenges – combined with other life pressures – can take a toll on your mental health.

In an Australian Government survey on small business mental health, 22% of small business owners reported a mental health diagnosis in recent months. This number jumped to between 28% and 31% for small business owners with employees. 

In this article, we explore the topic of small business mental health and share resources to support you and your team.

A Growing Problem

Small business employees can also bear the brunt of the hard economic times, in the form of increased workload and an increasingly high-pressure environment. The mental health effect of this can be profound. 

The increase in workload, uncertain financial times and pressure to succeed can lead to staff feeling anxious and unsupported. Research out of the UK found that this wasn’t out of malice by the small business owner. Rather, it’s from limited resources and a tightrope walk that sees small business owners attempting to juggle their business needs with the mental health needs of employees.

There is a link between employee mental health and their performance. Whether you have one employee or 100, there are a number of strategies you can implement to support their mental health. These include:

  • Start the conversation. Educate staff about mental health and the signs to look out for in themselves and others. If possible, get involved in RU OK? Day and other dedicated mental health events throughout the year.
  • Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for employees to talk about any issues they may be having, whether related to their work or personal lives.
  • Create a workplace culture that supports work/life balance and encourages taking breaks.
  • Where applicable, offer flexible working arrangements and provide employee assistance programs or wellness services.
  • Remember to thank your staff! They are people too and are advocates for your brand and business. The reward doesn’t have to be huge but a little goes a long way, especially when extra stresses have been added to the daily grind.

Your mental health as a small business owner is also something you need to foster. Consider some of the strategies below:

  • Make time to take care of yourself. Schedule regular exercise and social activities into your calendar just as you would any business meeting or appointment. 
  • Keeping connected with friends and family is key. Create a schedule that works for you to allow time when family and friends can visit, or set aside dedicated “me” time.
  • Create some private space in your work life. Make sure there is an area free from distractions and, if possible, get away from your workplace at lunchtime to have a proper break. You’ll be more productive when you return to work, refreshing your mind and energising you before getting back to business tasks in the afternoon.

Taking Mental Health Seriously

Breaking the stigma around asking for help when it comes to mental health is key for business owners. 

Beyond Blue’s NewAccess for Small Business Owners mental health program provides free phone and video support and one-on-one sessions with specialised coaches and former business owners.

If you or anyone you know is feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping, please access one or more of the below resources for help:

Small Business Debt Helpline: or call 1800 413 828

Beyond Blue:  


Department of Health:  

Heads Up:  

Small Business Commissioner:

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