Outlines: Why Mental Health Support for Small Business Owners | Challenges of Running a Small Business – Overworking – Stress and Anxiety – No Access | Why Mental Health Support Is Good? | Tips to Improve Mental Health | Final Thoughts
The post-pandemic world has been difficult on the mental health of Americans from all walks of life. It can be challenging to know where to turn, especially how to get mental health support for small business owners. Small business owners represent a unique population in our business world; they face challenges different from those who work for a traditional paycheck. Often, their mental health is at the bottom of their priorities.
The idea of owning your own business is romanticized… Being your own boss, unlimited success, and not answering to “the Man.” Who wouldn’t love the idea of being in charge of your own success and living a life you define, doing what makes you happy? The idea makes you want to compare keeping a job vs. running a business.
Small business owners are empowered, reporting better control over their work and managing their time and where they put their efforts each day. It is easy to assume then that this life will make you happy. While this may be true, many stressors and challenges could adversely affect small business owners’ mental health.
Why Is Mental Health Support for Small Business Owners Essential?
First, it is essential to examine the risks. Owning your own small business can be exhilarating and requires you to wear many hats. Here are some of the risks:
- You are never really “off,” even if you have trusted employees,
- Stepping away for vacation or time off is hard unless you have a good work-life balance.
- “Shifts” are non-existent.
- Most waking hours require something work-related of you.
- The lines between work and personal life are easily blurred
- Self-care takes a back seat to the business’s wellness, especially for workaholics.
Emotionally, this can take a toll. When you are responsible for so much, it’s easy to ignore your mental health. But mental health experts warn that this approach is dangerous. Not prioritizing mental health for small business owners can damage sustained wellness and create a sense of resentment toward the life they built for themselves.
Ensuring care for emotional wellness is the top priority for all small business owners, and having good mental health support is good for the business.
3 Challenges of Individuals Running a Small Business
1. Most Small Business Owners Overwork Themselves
Small business owners are entrepreneurs and self-professed workaholics. Their success is a testament to them putting the business needs ahead of their own. While this is good for business, it is terrible for mental health. Small business owners’ behaviors put them at higher risk of mental health concerns. These include
- Poor self-care
- Lack of sleep
- Poor dietary habits
- Not taking time off for illness
- And not having a vacation or downtime away from business pressures
2. Stress and Anxiety
The biggest threat to the mental health of small business owners is stress. Being the responsible party for the overall success requires the owner to take full responsibility for all aspects of the business (especially during start-ups). This includes
- Administrative duties
- Compliance with regulatory requirements
- Managing the overhead and expenses
- Time pressures
- And customer service
You name it.
The owner feels responsible for ensuring success in each of these areas. For perfectionists, this can become dangerous.
Researchers have established that chronic stress can lead to
- Personality changes
- And behaviors such as drinking and smoking.
Additionally, a Clinical Professor at the University of California, reports findings that about 1 in 3 entrepreneurs experience higher rates of depression, ADHD, and Bipolar. .
3. Challenge Accessing Mental Health Support
But access to mental health support for small business owners can be a significant challenge. Many factors make access a concern. It might be insurance coverage and cost. Small businesses do not always have the bargaining power large companies have in securing comprehensive insurance coverage. Paying out of pocket for mental health visits may prove to be cost-prohibitive.
Time constraints may also pose barriers to accessing mental health support for small business owners. Small business owners may have difficulty accessing traditional mental health services due to working late into the evening, never taking vacations, and never allowing for sick time.
Why Mental Health Support is Good for Business Owners
- Poor mental health can adversely affect a small business’s overall success. Operating a small business requires strong productivity, good customer service, and attention to detail. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are counterproductive to success in these areas. When experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, it is easier to lose concentration or struggle to multi-task.
- It can help reduce stress levels. When we are stressed, we don’t have the same emotional capacity to deal with problems as we might usually. This can strain relationships with employees or result in poor customer service.
- Mental health support helps business owners and employees learn about and practice proper work-life balance.
So, the evidence is there, mental health support for small business owners is necessary. But how and where can small business owners get mental health support without compromising the business’s success?
Five Tips That Can Help Business Owners Improve their Mental health
1. Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
It’s essential to have a work-life balance. Even when the success of your small business IS your life. You will be a better business owner if you prioritize your emotional wellness. Set some rules around work and personal time. For example, you can have a time of the day when you “clock out” and focus only on your home, family, and friends. Working 24/7 is not suitable for good mental health, which can, in turn, affect the business.
2. Take Some Time Off
Schedule days off, take a vacation or spend time with your family. Trust your employees to be able to manage without you. When you prioritize time away from the business, you help foster an environment where the employees take responsibility for the business’s success. A philosophy of micro-managing will create a culture where you CAN’T take time off.
3. Take Care of Your Workforce
Offering mental health support and employee emotional wellness opportunities will further support the business’s success. If your employees struggle with stress and anxiety, their work performance will likely suffer.
Check-in regularly with your staff. Encourage them to engage in self-care. If possible, link with a local Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as a resource for your team. And, most importantly, lead by example. If you are engaging in good mental health care, your employees will also be more likely to.
4. Have Hobbies
Your life and goals shouldn’t revolve around your business alone. You can look forward to other things. For example, you can take a yoga class, join a gym, or go fishing. When you have some distance from the stress of your business, you will feel refreshed when you return.
5. Prioritize Your Mental Health and Get Help
If you are struggling to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, or panic. Or you are experiencing poor sleep or increased substance use- these may be signs you need to seek professional health. Many licensed counselors will offer a sliding fee rate if you do not have insurance coverage. If time is the issue, find reputable online counseling services that employ licensed counselors to provide virtual counseling appointments.
Success in owning a small business is a challenge. The stress, pressures, and constant need to be “available” are why business owners should take care of their mental health. Emotional wellness will support the health and success of their small business.
Live, love, take chances-
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, mom of three, and an avid traveler. Writing is my passion and I love to share resources to those seeking to live their best life.