The Unspoken Struggle: SME Owners Face Ongoing Mental Health Crisis

Survey Reveals Government's Inadequate Support for Mental Health of UK's Self-Employed

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Key Takeaways:

  1. 90% of SME owners feel the UK government isn’t doing enough for their mental health, a Simply Business survey reveals.
  2. Overworked and under-rested, a third of SME owners work over 46 hours a week and 32% sleep less than five hours a night.
  3. Despite these challenges, many business owners hesitate to seek support for their own mental wellbeing or disclose it as a reason for time off.

A Crisis Beyond Blue Monday

As the UK commemorates Blue Monday on January 15, a stark reality surfaces for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners. A recent survey by small business insurer Simply Business unveils a concerning picture: an overwhelming 90% of SME owners believe that the government is not providing adequate support for their mental health.

Simply Business and Mind’s Intervention

Recognizing the pressing issue, Simply Business has partnered with Mental Health at Work, a program by the mental health charity Mind. With a generous donation of £100,000, they aim to support the UK’s self-employed in navigating mental health challenges.

The Burden of Overwork and Insufficient Rest

The survey reveals that a significant portion of SME owners are overburdened with work. One in three are working more than 46 hours a week, while nearly a third (32%) are managing with less than five hours of sleep each night. This relentless workload is pushing many dangerously close to burnout. Additionally, 73% of respondents take fewer than 20 days of holiday per year, further highlighting the intense pressure faced by SME owners.

Mental Health of Staff: A Secondary Concern

Although 19% of business owners are concerned about their staff’s mental health, there’s a noticeable reluctance to address their own mental well-being. A significant 45% would not seek support for their own mental health issues, and over half (51%) would feel uncomfortable citing poor mental health as a reason for needing time off or delaying deadlines.

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Comments from Simply Business and Mental Health at Work

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, emphasizes the severity of the situation: “The UK’s self-employed are operating at maximum capacity, enduring relentless hours, scarce breaks and sleepless nights, pushing many perilously close to burnout.” She advocates for urgent attention to this persistent lack of support that exacerbates the strain on SMEs.

Sarah Merrington, Programme Manager at Mental Health at Work, further underscores the importance of addressing these issues with compassion and understanding.

Resources for the Self-Employed

In partnership with Mental Health at Work, Simply Business offers free wellbeing tips and resources specifically tailored for the self-employed. These resources are designed to address concerns related to isolation and depression, offering much-needed support to this often-overlooked demographic.

Simply Business: A Pillar of Support

Simply Business, one of the UK’s leading commercial insurance providers, has been a champion for small businesses and landlords across Britain. With over 850,000 clients, they’ve utilized tech and data to create optimal customer experiences. Their commitment extends beyond business insurance, as demonstrated by their engagement in mental health initiatives for the self-employed.

The Need for Government Intervention

The survey’s findings call for a reevaluation of the government’s role in supporting the mental health of SME owners. The data from Simply Business, backed by research from the University of York, paints a clear picture of the challenges faced by small businesses in managing mental health in the workplace.

Conclusion: Addressing a Silent Epidemic

The mental health crisis among SME owners is a silent epidemic that demands immediate attention. As Simply Business and Mental Health at Work take steps to provide resources and support, there remains a crucial need for government intervention and broader societal recognition of the mental health challenges faced by the self-employed.

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For more information and access to mental health resources for the self-employed, visit Simply Business’s mental health support page. This partnership between Simply Business and Mental Health at Work is a significant step towards supporting SME owners, but it also highlights the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address the mental health crisis in this vital sector of the UK economy.


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