Being a small business, or startup business founder can be hugely rewarding, but for many, it comes with a set of unique challenges that could have a huge effect on your mental health.

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As a business owner, more often than not you have the sole responsibility for the company’s success or failure and are responsible for the employee’s work culture, safety, and wellbeing, whilst in the workplace. And whilst focusing on all of this is important, many forget about their own mental health in the process. 

A recent study by Mental Health UK found that a shocking 4 in 5 small business owners are experiencing poor mental health - and half of those surveyed have never had access to any mental health support. 

What are some of the common causes of this decline in mental health? 

  • Burnout due to long hours and working intensely to meet the demands of your business or to get your business off the ground

  • Unclear boundaries between work life and personal life e.g. working late nights/weekends 

  • Isolation if you don’t have someone to share business problems with, and spend most of your time tackling the demands of owning a small business. 

  • Financial worries, due to outgoings spent on the business

  • Feeling responsible for other people’s mental health and lifestyle as well as your own.

The impacts of Covid-19 have also played a part in the increase in mental health declines. The study conducted by Mental Health UK founder that small business founders have experienced issues with their mental health since the pandemic began. Over one third (35%) have experienced panic attacks and half have experienced symptoms of depression.

Unsurprisingly, more than three quarters (78%) of SME owners said they’ve been worried about cash flow during the pandemic – the most significant concern out of all the respondents.

So, how can small business founders ensure they are looking after their mental health? 

When you’re in charge of many operations and are neglecting your mental health it may be harder to spot the warning signs of declining mental health - but being aware of these warning signs could help you tackle the issue sooner. 

Some early warning signs to be aware of;

  • Finding it difficult to concentrate on tasks you once found simple

  • Feeling tired or fatigued often 

  • Being unusually tearful or emotional 

  • Becoming easily angry and taking frustrations out on people 

  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as; alcohol, drugs etc. 

  • Avoiding social situations and isolating yourself 

Being aware of these warning signs can help you identify a decline in your mental health, and allow you to get professional help to solve any problem you may be facing. 

Another way to help increase your positive wellbeing is to know where to get the right help, and how to take advantage of it. Businesses like Wellity, are a great example of ways you can introduce workplace wellbeing practices.  Wellity provides a complete solution to managing staff wellbeing. Bringing award-winning training and consultancy services to workforces across the world, Wellity provides organisations with everything needed to improve staff mental wellbeing. 

Other workplace wellbeing services; 

It is important to take care of yourself and stay well as a small business owner so you can stay on top of your business’s demands as much as possible, whilst making yourself a priority at the same time. By staying on top of your own mental health, you are likely to have more time to spend on ensuring your staff are in a positive working environment and have the support resources they need to help your business grow. 

Heads Up have put together a list of tips and tricks to help you look after yourself and your mental health - to help you and your business thrive. Visit the article here.  

If you need urgent help please contact 999 or get in touch with the NHS for emergency care. 

Whatever you’re going through, there are people you can talk to at any time.