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COVID-19 is the number one business-related cause of mental health challenges for small business



Research released today by MYOB has revealed the number one cause of business-related mental health challenges for one in three small business owners has been COVID-19 (36%), followed by financial concerns like cash flow (26%).

Research released today by MYOB has revealed the number one cause of business-related mental health challenges for one in three small business owners has been COVID-19 (36%), followed by financial concerns like cash flow (26%). 

MYOB’s long running Business Monitor surveyed more than 1,000 Australian SMEs between April and May, at the height of the pandemic. It highlights the financial and related mental health impact COVID-19 has had on small business owners across Australia.

MYOB Chief Employee Experience Officer, Helen Lea, said the impact of COVID on the small business sector is hard to overstate, as evidenced by the data.

“Almost half of the small business owners and operators agree that running a business has had a direct impact on any feelings of stress and anxiety, with one in five business owners saying that running their business in 2020 has caused depression. 

“Businesses whose owners and operators are aged between 18 and 39 were most likely to agree that they had felt anxiety or stress (68% agreed). 

“We have been talking to small businesses about their mental health and wellbeing for the last couple of years and recently launched a partnership with Smiling Mind to create dedicated small business owner content in the Smiling Mind app. We could not have predicted how important this content would become for the 2.4 million small businesses in Australia,” Ms. Lea said. 

In your opinion, what is the key business-related cause of mental health challenges?

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic and its wider economic impact (36%)
  2. Financial concerns / cash flow (26%)
  3. Attracting and/or retaining customers (9%)
  4. Not having enough family time (7%)
  5. Staffing issues (6%)

Retail and hospitality businesses were most likely to state the key business-related cause of mental health challenges was the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact (46%). 

“As part of our research, we drilled down into how small business owners are feeling. We asked 780 business owners what their most immediate concern is, with the most common response having to access Federal support to supplement incomes (29%) and a close second was their mental health (26%) tied with business and personal finance (26%). It’s clear the uncertainty of small business owners' finances and cash flow is having a direct impact on their mental wellbeing,” Ms. Lea added.  

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said looking after your mental health is more important now than ever, and there are resources to support small business owners.

“There’s never been a tougher time to be in business.

“Many small business owners will be focused on staying afloat right now, but it’s important to balance that with looking after yourself.

“The fact is, 1 in 4 Australians will experience depression or anxiety in their lifetime. Small business owners’ mental health may be intrinsically linked with the state of their small business.

“It’s important small business owners know that there is help available if they need it. The work MYOB is doing with Smiling Mind is extremely useful for small business owners. My Business Health, a free web portal on ASBFEO’s website, offers dedicated holistic support to employers and sole traders,” Ms. Carnell said.

For more information on ways you can get access to mental health tools and resources for small businesses visit: 

My Business Health

 and

 Smiling Mind

 or download the Smiling Mind app.