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New BDC survey finds COVID-19 is impacting entrepreneurs’ mental health—alongside their businesses

Women, visible minorities, and business owners who have not fully resumed activities are more likely to report mental health challenges

Montreal—November 13, 2020—BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, released a new report today which examines the state of Canadian business owners’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey revealed while nearly two-thirds say they are adjusting to the COVID-19 context (64%), and nearly one-third (29%) say it varies from day to day.

The report also unveiled that two in five business owners report feeling depressed at least once a week (39%) and two-thirds feel tired or have low energy (64%). The pandemic is having an even more alarming impact on certain sub-groups, particularly women entrepreneurs, visible minorities and business owners who have either not yet resumed or only partially resumed activities following the initial COVID-19 lockdown:

  • Women are significantly more likely to feel depressed (51%) and admit that mental health challenges interfered with their ability to work (40%).
  • Visible minorities are significantly more likely to say that mental health challenges interfered with their ability to work (48%) and they would have liked support from a mental health professional (33%).
  • Business owners who had not yet resumed activity were significantly more likely to feel tired (87%), depressed (75%) and say that mental health challenges interfered with their ability to work (57%).

“Last year, BDC made a commitment to raise awareness about the mental health and well-being of entrepreneurs, in addition to the health of their business,” says Annie Marsolais, Chief Marketing Officer and Mental Health Advocate at BDC. “By examining this topic and collaborating with experts and partners we can help break the stigma associated with mental health issues, ensure business owners feel more at ease discussing it, and know where to turn for help.”

Mental health and coping strategies for entrepreneurs facing the COVID-19 crisis

There are many concerns keeping entrepreneurs awake at night, but according to the report their biggest worries are generating enough revenue to make a profit (43%) and covering expenses (40%). To help cope with these stresses, entrepreneurs most often take time out or go for a walk (47%), exercise (41%) or talk to someone (29%).

To best support entrepreneurs, BDC brought together an advisory committee composed of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, and WorkInsights to review the survey findings.

Dr. Poundja, a psychologist at the Douglas Institute, believes entrepreneurs must brace themselves for longer-term disruptions due to COVID-19, and they must prioritize their mental health in order to lead their businesses through this new reality: "The fact that two-thirds of respondents feel tired, low or have little energy is worrisome and should be addressed. On one hand, it is important to keep in mind that being more anxious at times or having mild ups and downs is a normal reaction during a pandemic, but it can be more problematic when we become self-critical or judgmental. Finding coping strategies and watching for warning signs of a bigger problem are important."

He also encourages business owners to watch for warning signs that could indicate more serious mental health issues:

  • Changes in normal behavioural patterns such as eating or sleeping more or less than usual;
  • Increased alcohol or drug consumption;
  • Withdrawal from relationships and reduced sociability;
  • Difficulties in daily functioning at work, at home or in relationships, and;
  • Rumination about how things could go wrong that start to affect one’s capacity to work.

To find out more about the coping strategies entrepreneurs most often use to manage their mental health and deal with stressors, visit BDC website for the full report.

About BDC

BDC is the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs. It provides access to financing, as well as advisory services to help Canadian businesses grow and succeed. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers a wide range of risk capital solutions. For more than 75 years, BDC’s only purpose has been to support entrepreneurs in all industries and at all stages of growth. For more information and to consult more than 1,000 free tools, articles and entrepreneurs’ stories, visit bdc.ca.

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