7 out of 10 small business owners and charity bosses say their mental health is being affected by the cost of living crisis. Just over half of the people who responded to the survey by Newspage and ShopAppy say they’re experiencing a negative impact and 14% say the impact is very negative.
When it comes to money worries in business the affect isn’t just on the finances. It’s emotional too. At the Office of the Small Business Commissioner, we’ve been worried about this for several years with small business owners saying not getting paid on time or having to wait for payments for months in many cases, keeps them awake at night. Sleepless nights ultimately cause anxiety and depression, have a damaging affect on relationships and can lead to relationship breakdown and even homelessness.
On a roundtable discussion with people working in the construction sector at the end of April we heard from one group that, in a pre-covid survey of their members, a quarter reported suicidal thoughts and 87% said they experienced anxiety. In this sector the mental health risks are so high that young men are more likely to die by taking their own lives than because of any other factor.
Covid and the cost-of-living crisis can only have exacerbated the problem. People are exhausted by two years of trying to keep businesses afloat. Small businesses are hit by a double whammy, trying to pay the rising business bills, and struggling to take home enough income to pay the household bills. Putting up prices is a sure way to lose cash strapped customers also forced to cut back.
Mental health charities are seeing unprecedented demand for their services, and many don’t have the funding or capacity to cope. Despite that we need to be more aware than ever of the need to talk about our worries and get help as quickly as possible. The next few months are certainly not going to be easy, or to see much improvement. We’re facing a national mental health crisis on top of the cost-of-living one. Small businesses need support from individual customers who still have some money to spend and from business customers in the form or fast payments for their goods and services #PayDontDelay.