Risk for small business owners’ mental health as half still live in fear of future lockdowns

A mental health crisis is looming among small business owners – with 82% reporting that their mental health has already declined due to the pandemic, as more challenges await the self-employed.

A study by small business insurance provider Simply Business revealed that almost half (47%) were worried about their mental health in 2021, with one in five (19%) believing their mental health was in a ‘bad’ place due to the pandemic.

Overall, a third (30%) experienced depression, three in five (62%) have been affected by stress and over half (55%) have suffered from anxiety. With SME owners still facing challenges in 2022, there continues to be a risk to small business owners’ mental health.

These statistics are particularly concerning when paired with the difficult circumstances many still find their businesses in, due to the pandemic. More than half (52%) live in fear of future lockdowns and the impact it could have on trade.

Meanwhile, one in five (21%) believe supply chain issues will hit them hard – with ongoing challenges in getting goods to customers, or sourcing the stock they need. A further fifth (20%) have experienced difficulty bringing in enough customers to help with their financial recovery from Covid-19.

Taking steps to improve wellbeing

It’s reassuring to know that many small business owners are taking deliberate steps to improve their mental health.

Two in three (67%) are spending more time outside and in nature where possible, while a further 64% are exercising more frequently and dedicating more time to connecting with friends and family (also 64%).

A third (32%) have used reading as a tool to improve their wellbeing, while 27% have turned to gardening. Other activities which small business owners say help their wellbeing include mindfulness and meditation (25%) and exploring arts and crafts (21%).

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, comments: “Small business owners have encountered countless challenges during the course of the pandemic, with Covid-19 costing owners over £20,000 each on average. Livelihoods are on the line, and understandably this has had a huge impact on people’s wellbeing – with a staggering 82% reporting poor mental health last year.

“Entering 2022, it’s clear that many of these challenges remain – from staff shortages to supply chain issues. This worrying situation should concern us all, because small businesses are crucial to our economy and communities – and will be central to our collective recovery.”

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