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Entrepreneurs’ mental health has decreased significantly compared to last year, warns new survey results from BDC

Inflation among top stressors and 10% more entrepreneurs indicated wanting professional help

MONTREAL, May 9, 2023 A recent survey from BDC, Canada’s business development bank, reveals that 45% of Canadian business owners indicated that they felt mental health challenges compared to 38% in February 2022. The report also shows a double-digit increase in the proportion of entrepreneurs indicating they wanted to seek support from a mental health professional, a percentage that went from 21% in February 2022, to 31% in February 2023.

Entrepreneurs struggle to cope with rising costs and work-life balance

The survey results paint a concerning picture of the current economic climate and its impact on Canadian business owners. Over half of the business owners surveyed cite inflation as an important source of stress, and work/life balance is now a concern for 54% of them, compared to 45% last year.

“Canadian entrepreneurs are facing a daunting challenge in today’s economic context, compounded by the scars left by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inflation rates and other factors are affecting their business in ways that are harder to control, leaving many entrepreneurs resorting to working even longer hours just to stay afloat. This is amplifying their mental health stresses because of the sometimes-devastating consequences on their personal lives and overall well-being,” warns Annie Marsolais, Chief Marketing Officer and Mental Health Advocate at BDC.

Big divide between younger and older entrepreneurs

The results reveal a striking contrast in mental health help-seeking behaviours across age groups. Half of entrepreneurs under 45 years old sought professional mental health support in the past year, while only a quarter of older entrepreneurs did. “This stark divide underlines the pressing need for entrepreneurs to prioritize their mental well-being to thrive in the long term. The younger generation’s proactive approach to dealing with mental health sets a powerful precedent for future entrepreneurs, challenging the status quo and paving the way for a healthier business ecosystem,” adds Marsolais.

BDC to launch pilot project to address barriers to access

The survey uncovers a distressing reality: the cost of seeking mental health support is the most important obstacle to seeking mental health help for entrepreneurs, followed by uncertainty about services, discomfort, access and limited awareness.

The survey’s striking results prompted BDC to consider how it could help Canada’s small business owners to address this rising risk. BDC is set to launch a pilot project this fall, that will provide some of its existing clients with easy, with easy access to virtual therapy.

“Entrepreneurship is incredibly challenging on the best of days, and we know that still too many entrepreneurs struggle in silence. While making mental health support more accessible and affordable might not seem like something a typical bank would do, it speaks to the developmental nature of BDC,” Marsolais added. “We’re with entrepreneurs every step of the way, and if better mental health contributes to healthier businesses, then we will rise to the challenge.”

BDC’s survey on business owners’ mental health was conducted among 1,500 small business owners across Canada between February 20 and March 3, 2023. This is one of a series of yearly surveys BDC has been conducting since 2018 to contribute to a better understanding of the mental health of business owners across the country and to raise awareness of this issue. The initiative is part of the Bank’s commitment to help Canada and its entrepreneurs create a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable economy.

To find out more about the latest study, or for 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.


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