Leading cloud accounting software, FreshBooks, launched its Self-Employed Mental Health Report in partnership with Mind Share Partners. The report reveals that despite the pandemic and all the hardships that were created, 85% of entrepreneurs surveyed still feel that self-employment is the best choice for their mental and physical wellbeing.
The first of its kind, this study was conducted jointly by FreshBooks and Mind Share Partners, a non-profit based in the US that is changing the culture of workplace mental health. It is based on survey data collected online from a representative sample of more than 2,000 freelancers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs across the United States in January 2020 and April 2021. The data set provides an insightful comparison between the self-reported mental health of entrepreneurs both before and during the pandemic, and remarkably the collective mental health of America’s entrepreneurs has remained relatively stable.
“For most Americans choosing self-employment over a traditional job, the benefits outweigh the risks and hard work. We ran this study to see whether this holds true for mental health and wellbeing specifically, given the particular stresses that often come with self-employment,” said Dave Cosgrave, Head of Research at FreshBooks, and the Co-Leader on the study.
“While it’s safe to say that self-employment does have a net positive effect on mental health overall, millions of independent workers are experiencing mental health challenges, many of which have been amplified by the pandemic.”
Key findings from the report include:
- Nearly three-quarters (72%) of self-employed Americans describe their emotional, psychological and social wellbeing as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. This is unchanged from the data seen in January 2020.
- The effects of the pandemic on the mental health of small business owners have not been uniform. Nearly as many say they are better off (26%) versus worse off (32%), while 41% feel no difference in mental health since the start of the pandemic.
- More than 50% of survey respondents did experience symptoms of poor mental health for the first time. This includes:
- 25% experiencing depression for the first time as entrepreneurs
- 20% experiencing anxiety for the first time as entrepreneurs
- 18% experiencing chronic stress for the first time as entrepreneurs
Despite self-reported improvements in and/or good mental health overall, many self-employed people in America experienced mental health symptoms that affected their day-to-day. In the past 12 months:
- 49% say their condition made it difficult to concentrate on their business (compared to 42% seen in the previous report).
- 36% say they put off challenging work.
- 30% say they became less responsive to emails and other communications.
Study participants cited the following as the most challenging aspects of self-employment when it comes to their mental health and wellbeing:
- Financial stress and fear about the future of their business (44%)
- Working alone (29%)
- Having too much work to do in too little time (28%)
- Feeling they can never show vulnerability or weakness (27%)
- Responsibility for livelihood of staff (17%, up significantly from the 2020 study)