More than three quarters (78 per cent) of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are worried about their cash flow during Covid-19; a worry which is contributing to a growing mental health crisis among small business owners.
According to a new study by Mental Health UK in partnership with SME lender iwoca, 80 per cent of SME owners said that they have suffered from mental health symptoms since the start of the pandemic.
Panic attacks and depression have become more frequent during the Covid era, while other SME owners have reported an inability to focus (66 per cent), anxiety (64 per cent) and disrupted sleep (63 per cent).
Cashflow worries represented the most significant concern out of all respondents, as economic uncertainty has left many SMEs unsure of their future earnings potential.
The study also found that there was a gender disparity, with female business owners more likely to experience poor mental health than their male counterparts.
“We have made so much progress as a society in promoting the importance of good mental health,” said James Dear, co-founder of iwoca.
“But, despite the acute and specific challenges small business owners face, we have not seen the same attention paid to their specific needs.
“This research shows that a considerable proportion of SME owners are struggling with their mental health, which not only affects their wellbeing but could also impact their business.”
Despite the growing mental health crisis, 44 per cent of SME owners have never accessed mental health support. 22 per cent said that they often shut off and disengage from others when experiencing mental health issues, with just one in four (25 per cent) having accessed professional help.
In response to the survey results, iwoca has joined with Mental Health UK to launch a specifically tailored for small business owners. This will provide all small business owners with practical tools, access to support networks and trained mental health specialists.
“It’s an incredibly tough time for small business owners, with increasing economic uncertainty and disruption impacting not only the health of their business, but also their own wellbeing and resilience as they try to weather the storm,” said Brian Dow, chief executive of Mental Health UK.
“At Mental Health UK we know that when it comes to mental health support, a one-size-fits-all approach will not do. We are thrilled to be working with iwoca to launch new support designed for small business owners, which is accessible and relevant to their needs.”