Most entrepreneurs aren’t OK: We must address Australia’s small business mental health crisis

mental health

Mental illness is a daily tragedy in Australia, and for our 2.2 million small businesses, the issue has reached a crisis point that demands urgent action.

The prevalence of mental health issues among small business owners in Australia is more than double the national average. More than half (56%) of Australia’s entrepreneurs are struggling, compared to one-in-five people in the broader population.

A whopping 57% of small business owners are overstressed, eight-in-ten are sacrificing sleep to keep the lights on, and most are paying themselves less than average Australian wage.

These are not just numbers. Mental health is a daily tragedy in Australia. More than half of Australians suffering from mental illness never seek help, and six people take their own lives in our country every day.

Today is R U Okay? Day, an opportunity for business owners to encourage their staff to talk about their own struggles with mental health, but also a chance for entrepreneurs themselves to talk to each other.

SmartCompany encourages all business owners and founders to reach out to others in the community today, tomorrow and next week. One question can be a life-changing fork in the road for those that need it most.

Running a small business can feel like an all-encompassing task, whether it’s a feeling of responsibility to staff when cashflow is tight, or trying to plan ahead in the early hours after a day keeping the wheels turning.

It isn’t easy, but you aren’t alone. Help is available for anyone, business owner or otherwise, struggling with mental illness, should they want it.

No-one has to suffer in silence, and there’s no such thing as toughing it out.

Many of the most successful founders in Australia have their own stories to tell about mental health — opening up isn’t an admission of failure, it’s an opportunity to pave the way for a brighter future.

It’s a future every small business owner and their staff deserve, but this is a crisis Australia’s SME community can only tackle with solidarity, support and advocacy.

Resources created by small business for small business exist, whether that’s Everymind’s government-backed Ahead for Business program or Beyond Blue’s recently launched mental health guide.

Best practice mental health in the workplace doesn’t have to break the bank and is also a great business decision. Responsible business owners treat mental wellbeing as a serious issue.

But more support is needed, and that extends beyond mental health resources. Survey after survey has demonstrated the link between small businses mental health and cashflow, but late payment times remain a $7 billion problem for Australian SMEs. 

Just like employees, business owners deserve to be paid in full and on time. No-one should have to wake up on Sunday morning wondering whether their suppliers have paid their bills.

Australia’s small business community is vital to our country. Business owners are some of the most hard-working and diverse members of our community. They deserve to thrive, and above all else, be happy.

If you or anyone you know needs help, call:

NOW READ: Why leadership is vital for tackling workplace mental health

NOW READ: How GPs can help managers improve workplace mental health


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2 years ago

The word ‘entrepreneur’ should be removed and in its place ‘Business builder’ used. This is what people are actually doing. The barrier to setting up a biz is today very much reduced, and therefore this explosion of players. Mind set, and awareness of what is needed are still very much needed. It is a numbers game, more players = more failures.

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