Mental Health of Small Business
Stressed small business owners and their families often pay a high price for the pressure they work under. Something rarely spoken about is the mental health of small business owners. It should be.
People who start their own business are highly vulnerable to depression and other mental health conditions due to the financial and family pressures they take on.
There are cases I have reported on where the pressure of an overbearing, bullying franchisor has undoubtedly contributed to the depression and suicide of franchisees. Similar to many farming families, tough prices or economic conditions — and mounting debts — lead to the darkest of thoughts.
There are so many issues here, including the way suppliers and financiers deal with the failure of a business.
Hopefully, one solution is the creation of schemes of arrangement for many in debt trouble these days, compared with the past where it seemed a one-way street to receivership or liquidation.
But there is also an apparent lack of support for those in business trouble. Some of the stress inside small business is caused by big businesses or government with their delayed payment terms, or their contracts. New federal legislation to clamp down on unfair contracts is to be applauded.
My experience (and this is callous, I know) is that it is easy to make an inventor cry. As you talk to them about their invention (which they are invariably passionate about) you simply ask them about the sacrifices they have made, both financially and to their family. In almost every case, there is an emotional response. It is often divorce; sometimes bankruptcy.
The same is true of small business owners. The hours are cruel, the paperwork endless and the decisions non-stop. There is not only the responsibility for your family; but that of every person who works for you. It can be easy to lose your way.
One of the great initiatives launched in recent years is Beyond Blue’s Heads Up campaign, to create more mentally healthy workplaces.
At any time one in five employees is likely to be experiencing a mental health condition. I believe the figures for small business owners would be worse.
Though Heads Up is about creating a more mentally healthy workplace, there is clearly more work to be done for those people who take the greatest risk by creating their own ventures.
More knowledge — and better ways to relieve business owners of stress — can only enhance employment opportunities and society as a whole.
www.headsup.org.au www.beyondblue.org.au ;
October 19, 2015 Financial expert Ross Greenwood. The Daily Telegraph
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