Mental health awareness: A small business owner's guide to success

A small business owner's mental health can directly affect company performance. Capital One Business Deals highlights how to prioritize mental health.

The importance of prioritizing your mental health

Being a small business owner can be stressful, and that stress can show up in a number of ways.

Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being, affecting how we think, feel, act, make choices and relate to others. It impacts our careers, relationships and goals, among other things.

Mental health also is a financial issue. Billions of dollars are spent each year on treatment of mental health issues. And billions of dollars are lost due to decreased productivity. All of these costs hit small business owners and employees alike.

The challenges of running a small business

Challenges a business owner may encounter while running a small business can take a toll on mental health. In a 2022 survey for business services provider Incfile, 65% of small business owners said they had suffered from anxiety, and more than half had struggled with depression.

Small business owners can improve their mental health by looking out for signs of trouble and taking the appropriate action, such as practicing self-care, when that trouble interferes with their work and life.

1. Financial stress

Financial stress doesn’t just arise at home when it comes time to pay bills.

In the Incfile survey, 31% of small business owners reported managing business finances was the No. 1 trigger of mental health challenges. If this is a concern for you, consider getting professional assistance with your business finances.

2. Long work hours

Small business owners are working even harder for their money. A 2022 survey for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife found that 50% of small business owners were working more hours now than they were a year earlier.

If that sounds like you, consider taking time off when you’re feeling overworked, whether it’s a long weekend or extended vacation.

3. Personal and professional work life balance

It can be tough for some small business owners to carve out sufficient time for their personal lives. This, of course, can contribute to burnout. It’s important to reduce burnout before it causes problems for you, your employees and your business.

4. Handling uncertainty and risk

Handling uncertainty and risk is a juggling act for many small business owners, particularly because so many of the factors that contribute to uncertainty and risk are out of their control. If this is the case, try to look at the positives while still managing the negatives.

The effects of mental health issues on small business owners

From decreased productivity to strained relationships, here are some of the effects a small business owner may notice stemming from mental health issues.

1. Decreased productivity

At least some of billions of dollars in lost workplace productivity attributed to poor mental health undoubtedly arise from issues that nag small business owners. Maximizing productivity — by outsourcing some business tasks, for example — can lift your mental health and your business’ bottom line.

2. Poor decision-making

Most businesses fail due to poor decision-making. And that poor decision-making can be triggered, in part, by mental health struggles faced by small business owners. This alone is a great reason to take care of your mental health.

3. Burnout and exhaustion

As a Capital One survey shows, burnout is a real concern for small business owners. The level of burnout was highest among Gen Z business owners and millennial business owners. If you’re feeling burned out or exhausted, now is the time to tackle it — before it evolves into a harder-to-handle issue.

4. Strained relationships

When a small business owner is coping with mental health issues, it can strain relationships at work. This can carry over to a business owner’s personal life as well. If this sounds familiar, it might be time to get professional counseling.

Strategies for improving mental health as a small business owner

Small business owners can embrace a number of strategies to improve mental health, such as seeking professional help and placing a priority on mental health.

1. Seeking professional help

If you’re feeling the weight of mental health complications, reach out for help from a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist.

2. Practicing self-care

Self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising, can improve your mental and physical well-being.

3. Setting boundaries

The National Alliance on Mental Illness emphasizes that setting and maintaining boundaries, such as learning to say “no,” can help you conserve emotional energy and put you in a better mental state.

4. Prioritizing mental health

Prioritizing mental health is vital. That’s particularly important due to the fact that more than half of U.S. adults with mental illness don’t seek treatment and that about one-fourth of adults report unmet needs for mental health treatment.

Employers play a key role in supporting employee mental health

It’s not only critical for small business owners to take care of their own mental health. They also should support the mental health of their employees, if for no other reason than to help attract and retain talent.

1. Creating a supportive workplace culture

Creating a supportive workplace culture is one way to support employees’ mental health. Among the ways to do that are promoting more listening between managers and employees and giving employees opportunities to get rid of stress (such as workplace workout sessions).

2. Offering mental health resources

Among the mental health resources that a small business should consider are including mental health coverage in the employees’ health insurance plan and setting up an employee assistance program.

3. Addressing stigmas surrounding mental health

To address stigmas surrounding mental health, a small business might offer mental health training to the entire workforce or encourage leaders to share their mental health challenges.

Explore insurance options through Capital One Business Deals

For both small business owners and their employees, emphasizing mental health in the workplace can benefit everyone in the company — and can benefit the bottom line. Some insurance plans may offer mental health assistance. Explore savings on insurance options for your small business and consider adding mental health coverage for your employees.

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