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Entrepreneurs continue to struggle with mental health two years into the pandemic

  • More entrepreneurs said they wish to seek support from a mental health professional
  • Women, diverse, and younger entrepreneurs face more challenges
  • New coping mechanisms are emerging including taking time off and meditation

MONTREAL, April 27, 2022 For Canadian Mental Health Week happening May 2-8, BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, released its fourth report tracking the state of Canadian business owners’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest survey, completed between January 24 and February 4, 2022, found that two-thirds (66%) say they have things under control when it comes to continuing to adjust to the COVID-19 context, a slight decrease compared to March 2021 (70%). The good news is most (81%) business owners felt satisfied with their mental health at least once a week, and 44% were satisfied every day.

“Two years into the pandemic, the effects of languishing are real,” says Annie Marsolais, Chief Marketing Officer and Mental Health Advocate at BDC. “It dulls your motivation, disrupts your focus, and entrepreneurs are not immune. Business owners are their businesses, and it’s critical they take care of themselves, mind and body, in order to keep their business thriving, support their families, and their employees.”

When it comes to sources of stress, generating enough revenue to make a profit, and to cover expenses, remain top concerns, but new worries are growing. Restoring supply sources (+ 6%), and attracting clients back to physical locations (+ 5%) have significantly increased compared to last year.

Entrepreneurs also reported a slight increase in mental challenges, such as feeling more tired, depressed, and that mental health challenges interfered with their ability to work. These feelings were higher among women, diverse (particularly LGBTQ2+), and younger entrepreneurs (under 35 years old), reinforcing the trend seen in past surveys.

Mental health challenges
(at least once per week – all respondents)
Feb ‘22 Mar ‘21 Nov ‘20 Aug ‘20
Felt tired, low energy 60% (+3%) 57% 60% 64%
Felt depressed 43% (+3%) 40% 47% 39%
Felt mental health challenges interfered with ability to work 34% (+3%) 31% 37% 31%

Dr. Poundja, a psychologist at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, says these results are in line with other research studies that indicate the pandemic has had a larger psychological impact on young adults and women. “While these groups are experiencing more mental health impacts, they are also more likely to address their mental health challenges based on the survey results, an important strength that can help them to cope effectively with the difficulties caused by the current pandemic.”

Since last March, almost twice as many entrepreneurs said that they wish to seek support from a mental health professional at least once a week. Dr. Poundja adds that this could be a sign of progress in terms of de-stigmatizing mental health. The study showed the top coping strategies remained consistent (go for walk, exercise), but new tactics (such as taking vacation and meditation) have increased in usage since the first study in August 2020.

Coping strategies
(at least once per week)
Feb ‘22 Mar ‘21 Nov ‘20 Aug ‘20
Take time out/go for walk 48% (+1%) 47% 51% 47%
Exercise 46% (-1%) 47% 45% 41%
Lean on personal/family relationships 35% (+5%) 30% 31% 28%
Take time off/vacation 26% (+8%) 18% 21% 24%
Practice meditation 16% (+4%) 12% 11% 10%

To find out more about the latest study, or for free mental health and well-being resources, visit bdc.ca/wellbeing.

About BDC

As Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, BDC is a partner of choice for all entrepreneurs looking to access the financing and advice they need to build their businesses and tackle the big challenges of our time. Our investment arm, BDC Capital, offers a wide range of risk capital solutions to help grow the country’s most innovative firms. We are one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. For more information on BDC’s products and services and to consult free tools, templates and articles, visit bdc.ca or join BDC on social media.