Beyond Blue Monday: Year round mental health challenges faced by SME owners

As the UK marks Blue Monday on January 15, a survey conducted by small business insurer Simply Business revealed that 90% of SME owners feel that the government isn’t doing enough to support their mental health.

Simply Business has collaborated with Mental Health at Work, an initiative designed by the prominent mental health charity Mind, contributing £100,000 to aid the mental wellbeing of the UK's self-employed individuals.

The survey among small business owners also unveiled that one in three SME owners work over 46 hours weekly. Alarmingly, nearly a third (32%) average less than five hours of sleep per night, and about 73% take less than 20 days of holiday annually.

An additional concern for 19% of business owners is their staff's mental health. However, 45% are unlikely to seek support for their own wellbeing, and over half (51%) would feel uneasy about citing poor mental health as a reason for taking time off or postponing deadlines.

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented: “Amidst a cost of living crisis, the UK’s self-employed are operating at maximum capacity, enduring relentless hours, scarce breaks and sleepless nights, pushing many perilously close to burnout. The ongoing situation demands urgent attention and the persistent lack of support exacerbates the strain SMEs are experiencing.

“Our partnership with Mental Health at Work aims to spotlight these challenges, offering tailored resources to aid this overlooked demographic, addressing concerns related to isolation and depression with compassion and understanding.”

Sarah Merrington, Programme Manager at Mental Health at Work said: “We know that small businesses and the self-employed are often overlooked when it comes to public workplace mental health initiatives. These communities face unique challenges, and the events of recent years have only made it more difficult for these small organisations and business owners to prioritise wellbeing at work.

“Results from our survey in partnership with Simply Business shine a light on how crucial it is that we act, right now, to support these groups. The results expose a mental health crisis, with over half of respondents struggling with poor mental health in the last year, many experiencing insomnia, working long hours, and very rarely taking breaks - it’s a recipe for burnout.

“Simply Business and Mental Health at Work are working together to make a real difference in addressing this issue. Together, we're providing accessible, bespoke support for small business owners and the self-employed, to enable them to make positive changes to their mental health. This World Mental Health Day, and every day, it’s important that small business owners and the self-employed can access support - whenever they need it.”