Watching out for wellbeing: looking out for your mental health as a small-business owner

Taking time to focus on your wellbeing can seem a luxury few entrepreneurs can afford. But taking care of their mental health is vital for anyone running a business

Watching out for wellbeing: looking out for your mental health as a small-business owner

It’s widely reported that one in four people experience mental health problems in any year. Mental-health-related cases presented by small-business owners and the self-employed to FSB Care has increased five-fold over the last ten years. Mental health and orthopaedics now represent more than half of all cases it handles. And better mental health support could save UK businesses up to £8bn a year.

The relationship between owning a smaller business or being self-employed and wellbeing is a complex one. On the one hand, running your own business is an immensely rewarding, creative and fulfilling career choice in many respects. Recent FSB research found that 79% of FSB members ranked independence at work, 61% a better work-life balance and 51% the opportunity to fulfil a vision as featuring in the top three benefits they associated with being self-employed

However, smaller business owners and the self-employed face particular challenges when it comes to wellbeing and mental health. FSB research found that 44% of the self-employed cited the lack of certainty of earnings as a major challenge, while 21% pointed to the difficulty of accessing financial products, such as mortgages. Despite this, 60% plan to remain self-employed or to be running the same business in five years’ time.

According to Christine Husbands of RedArc, the provider of FSB Care: “Small business owners and the self-employed tend to try to struggle on through illness which can often exacerbate a condition, causing long-term problems. They also suffer with the stress and responsibility of running the business which cannot operate without them.” Being a small business owner can often be very lonely – with no-one to share the responsibility and no-one to talk to about worries or concerns. This can escalate into mental-health conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

However, even when a business person has identified they may have a problem, they do not always know what the best type of therapy for them would be. Counselling may be appropriate in some cases; in others, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy may be more suitable. A personal nurse adviser can assess and source the most appropriate therapy or counselling quickly and continue to provide long-term support after the course of therapy has finished. Unfortunately, long waiting lists on the NHS for therapies such as physiotherapy and counselling mean that unless people can afford to pay privately, then they will be waiting a long time to start on the road to recovery.

In light of this, it’s worth business owners also keeping an eye out for their wellbeing. Here are a few self-care tips:

Open up

Speak to someone about worries or concerns and don’t be afraid to talk them through. If you have access to a professional nurse adviser service, utilise it.

Ease the burdens 

Keep potential additional sources of stress and anxiety at bay, for example by outsourcing some aspects of running the business, or by reaching out to expert business advisers about specialist areas, such as HR or legal issues.


Avoid isolation and share experiences and ideas – it could even bring leads too. Join an established network that offers both face-to-face and virtual networking.


Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling or jogging boosts endorphins that help you feel happier and calmer. 


This article comes courtesy of the FSB, the UK’s biggest business organisation, which is member-led and not-for-profit. It is responsible for FSB Care, a medical welfare service made available to its 170,000 members, which gives you a dedicated nurse adviser, is completely confidential and offers practical information and emotional support on serious health issues.


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