Self-employed Faring Better Mentally in Pandemic


The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on mental health. With worries about whether their business would survive the restrictions and regulations, small business owners and entrepreneurs have had their share of mental anguish during the last 18 months.

Despite the many challenges the pandemic has created for small businesses, the self-employed are faring better mentally.

Self-Employed Have Experienced Less Mental Health Symptoms

The 2021 Self-Employed Mental Health Report produced by Freshbooks in partnership with Mind Share Partners, shows that the self-employed and entrepreneurs in the United States have experienced less negative mental health symptoms than employed people working in traditional ‘9 – 5’ roles.

The report is aimed as shedding light on the mental, social and emotional wellbeing of America’s self-employed community. To dig deeper into the present wellbeing of entrepreneurs, Freshbooks surveyed 2,000 self-employed individuals about their mental health.

Majority of Self-Employed Say Mental Health is ‘Good’ Or ‘Very Good’

72% of those surveyed said their mental health is either “good” or “very good.” Only 10% of small business owners said their mental health was “very poor.” 85% of small business owners believe that self-employment is the best form of employment for mental health, despite the challenges the pandemic created.

Freshbooks’ findings are important as they confirm the robustness and resilience of small businesses owners and entrepreneurs in the United States. For anyone contemplating starting their own business, the research could provide them with encouragement that being self-employed is a leading choice of employment even during such precarious times.

Improved Quality of Life

As the authors of the report note: “Our survey respondents overwhelmingly report improved quality of life that comes from being their own boss. While the stats may come as a surprise, they indicate that small business owners are resilient, adaptable, and consistently manage change, even in unprecedented circumstances. This resilience may stem from the unpredictability that comes with owning a business.”

The research explored the changes in different aspects of mental health that small business owners experienced during the pandemic.

42% of those surveyed said they had difficulty concentrating prior to the pandemic. In the middle of the health crisis, this figure increased by 7%, with 49% of small business owners admitting they had suffered from a lack of concentration at that time.

33% of participants say that before the pandemic hit, they had put off challenging work. This figure increased, with 36% admitting to putting off work they considered challenging in the middle of the pandemic.

Out of those who said they were less responsive to emails and other forms of communication; the number stayed the same, with 30% of small business owners admitting to being uncommunicative both before and mid-pandemic.

Productivity Levels Took a Knock

Productivity and working hours took a bit of a knock during the pandemic. 24% of the entrepreneurs surveyed say they were hyper productive and working unusually long hours pre-pandemic and 16% stating they were hyper-productive and working long hours mid-pandemic.

The number of self-employed who missed deadlines or produced lower quality work was virtually the same, with 18% admitting to such issues pre-pandemic and 19% mid-pandemic.

Financial Stress Having a Negative Impact on Mental Health

The survey also asked respondents the factors that had had a negative impact on their mental health. 44% labelled financial stress and fear about the future of their businesses as having a negative impact on their mental well-being.

29% say working alone had had the biggest detrimental impact on their mental health. 28% attributed the biggest cause of mental anguish as having too much work to do in too little time. 27% of self-employed individuals say that feeling like they can never show vulnerability or weakness is the biggest factor affecting their mental health.

While self-employed have inevitably faced battles and had obstacles to overcome since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Freshbooks’ report provides a positive snapshot of the well-being of the US’ self-employed community.

The key takeaway is that, despite the hurdles, for quality of life, being your own boss is perhaps the best option.

Image: Depositphotos

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Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".