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Study probes why entrepreneurs experienced less negative mental health symptoms during the pandemic

Posted by Shivali Anand

August 13, 2021    |     3-minute read (510 words)

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic brought the globe to a halt, levying a profound impact on companies, services and individuals. While some companies were able to adapt to remote labor needs rapidly, most were forced to deal with extreme unpredictability. A sense of insecurity has plagued most working people and company owners since.

Everything relating to people's mental health has gone downhill in this turbulent time of despair. People around the world have had their freedom and independence restricted, and they have been subjected to lockdowns that left some feeling alone and helpless. For many, the extended anxiety has been crippling.

It appears there has been a silver lining in this situation. FreshBooks' 2021 Self-Employed Mental Health Report, produced with Mind Share Partners, has some startling findings. According to its research, small company owners psychologically survived the pandemic crisis better than their hired colleagues, displaying less damaging mental health concerns.

The findings were obtained from data collected from a survey of 2,000 self-employed respondents contacted by FreshBooks to measure their mental wellbeing and shed light on social and emotional elements of company ownership amid difficult times.

The first thing that stands out is that the vast majority of respondents (72%) characterized their mental well-being as being good or very good. Only 10% of respondents rated their mental health as "bad" or "very poor." These straightforward facts demonstrate the tenacity of the American small company owner in the face of prolonged struggle. The implication is that entrepreneurs are effectively managing change despite the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic.

This is not to suggest that the self-employed were not stressed. Approximately half of those polled reported indications of poor mental health as entrepreneurs. During the pandemic, 42% of individuals who experienced symptoms linked with poor mental health said trouble concentrating at the outset, a proportion that rose to 49% by the mid-pandemic. During the pandemic, 36% reported putting off difficult work.

Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents who acknowledged being less responsive to email and contact before the pandemic remained constant during pandemic at 30%. The proportion of respondents who reported missing deadlines or generating subpar work before the pandemic remained nearly constant mid-pandemic, at 18% and 19%, respectively.

Finance and the future of the business were mentioned by 44% of respondents as the most significant contributors to mental stress during the pandemic. However, 29% said that working alone was the most significant strain on their mental health, while 28% mentioned a lack of time to perform work as the most effective mental load. 

Perhaps due to increased media coverage of mental health concerns during the pandemic, almost three-fourths of company owners with a partner reported taking mental health seriously. And more than half indicated the crisis had made them more sympathetic to employees' mental health.

Despite the pandemic's stresses, a staggering 85% of those polled felt self-employment was still the most excellent option for their mental and physical wellbeing. This implies that, despite ongoing uncertainty, entrepreneurship provides a sense of accomplishment and meaning that working for someone else does not.

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