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Mental health in Australian Small Businesses is a big talking point at present and with good reason. With many pressures that are put on Small Business operators, such as financial and staff challenges, it is no wonder that these pressures can result in feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. In fact, over half of those in Small Business operations are currently dealing with mental health issues, a large increase from 20% of people going through mental health in the broader Australian population . With Small Businesses playing such a crucial role in Australian employment and economy, this article will look at the statistics around mental health in Small Business, what you can do to break down the stigma of mental health and where to get help if you, or someone you know, is struggling. 


The Stats & Stresses

A recent study conducted by MYOB has found that mental health issues affect an alarmingly high number of Small Business Owners in Australia. Of the 757 Australian Small Business operators to be surveyed, more than half (56%) had experienced feelings of anxiety or depression.  These findings are echoed with other studies. A study conducted by Everymind found that 57.6% of Australian Small Business owners are also experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, based on 440 participants surveyed. 

With these alarming statistics, there are a few key areas where Small Business owners are feeling overwhelmed.


Cash Flow, Customers and Time Stresses

It should not come as a surprise that cash flow is the top challenge for the Business owners surveyed, with almost half (48%) saying that their poor mental health was caused by financial concerns and cash flow challenges. Other challenges included attracting and/or retaining customers (13%) and not having enough time for family (12%) or to do the work required in their business (12%).


Staff Stresses

The million-dollar question – do staff play a part in increasing metal health? Unfortunately, yes (at least according to this study).  A staggering 62% of small businesses with between five and nine employees report experiencing a mental health condition versus 38% of sole traders. Furthermore, 12% of small business owners with employees have a higher incidence of stress, whereas this affects just 4% of sole traders. 


Break Down the Stigma

According to the same MYOB study mentioned above, 71% of those in Small Business said it would be beneficial for friends and family to have access to mental health resources at their place of employment. However, of those who didn’t think it would be beneficial to have these types of resources available, 11% mentioned that it was because they wanted to keep their situation private. 

While it is understandable that running a small business can result in a lot of pressure, it is also important to remember that these challenges do not need to be faced alone.

Talking about mental health is becoming more common which is resulting in more assistance. With many people turning to friends, family, their doctor or wider network, the most important thing to remember is that the more mental health is spoken about the less people will want to keep it hidden. “If you feel isolated, reach out and put yourself in a space with other small business owners,” says Leanne Faulkner , mental health advocate and founder of Billy Goat Soap. One way in which to do this is by getting out and meeting other business owners who are riding the Small Business rollercoaster just like you. 

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How to Get Help

There are many ways to get assistance if you are struggling with your mental health, but the most important thing to do is to take the first step to speak with someone. Whether that is a friend, family member, your doctor or someone else, asking for help or talking about what is going on can be a huge relief. Below are the numbers of Lifeline, Beyond Blue and Headspace who all specialise in helping Small Business operators with their mental health and are happy to help. 

Lifeline  on 13 11 14;
Beyond Blue  on 1300 22 46 36; or
Headspace  on 1800 850 890.

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