Only 30% of small business owners experiencing symptoms of poor mental health have sought professional help from a counsellor or therapist, according to new research by iwoca – one of Europe’s largest small business lenders.
The survey of over 1,000 small business owners reveals that a lack of information related to tailored support was the biggest reason for not accessing help relating to mental health, with one in four (24%) owners not knowing that specific help for small businesses existed and one in five not feeling comfortable talking about mental health.
Free, confidential mental health support now available for all small businesses in the UK
iwoca is launching free therapy sessions for all small business owners in the UK – in partnership with therapy platform Spill – to make it easier for small business owners to access the support they need. All SMEs owners will be able to talk to trained mental health professionals via video.
Stresses related to owning a business is affecting mental wellbeing
Over a quarter (27%) of small business owners believe that owning a business negatively impacts their mental health. Despite the easing of the pandemic, the survey reveals that three in four (72%) small business owners are worried about cash flow and 55% are concerned about having to temporarily close their businesses. This is compared with 51% and 63% respectively when iwoca last surveyed SME owners in January 2021.
The survey found that 36% experience anxiety and one in five show symptoms of depression several times a month. Overall, 61% experience at least one symptom of poor mental health several times a month, an increase from 57% in January 2021.
Seema Desai, Chief Operations Officer at iwoca, said: “Our research lifts the curtain on the impact that running a business can have on the mental health of SME owners; and the pressures that many of them face have worsened throughout the pandemic.
“So we must do everything we can to ensure our coffee shops, hairdressers and electricians can access the right support – tailored to them – to help them cope with the challenges that running a business can foster.
“We’ve been providing mental wellbeing support via Spill for iwoca employees for over a year – it’s one of our most loved benefits. Given what we’ve learnt about the mental health needs of small business owners, we’re now excited to extend this offering to them – to ensure they have access to the best support out there, for free.”
Will Allen-Mersh, partner at Spill, added: “Looking after our mental wellbeing should always come first. So we think it’s important that everyone has access to therapy; and small business owners certainly shouldn’t be an exception. In fact – as iwoca’s research shows – owning a business can make looking after your mental health even harder.
“So we’re delighted that iwoca is helping small business owners access our confidential professional therapy, and we hope that the support we’ll offer will help them cope with the pressures that running a business can provoke.”
Small business owner and iwoca customer, Rebecca Lockwood – owner of female entrepreneur training consultancy in Yorkshire – said: “As a business owner I find myself having to really keep my mind on track. Before I trained in neuro-linguistic programming I didn’t understand how to do this and would find myself comparing a lot to other people and other business owners. I found myself in a bad place thinking I had to do it all and be it all – a mum, a business owner, a wife – successfully.
“There’s a misconception that you have to be working all the time in order to be a success. There’s so much more pressure on you to make sure you get it right and we can create this perception in our minds that causes negative looping. What most people do not think about is how productive rest actually is for our mindset and mental health.
“I tap into my own support and ensure I check in with myself each week at least. I’ve worked with coaches and self coached to help me with direction and mindset which has had a huge positive effect on my mental health. Working with a coach or therapist can really impact your mental wellbeing; you’re able to let out everything going on in your mind with a sounding board. A lot of people don’t consider doing this because it’s not talked about enough.”