Vast majority of Canadian business owners open to seeking mental health support

Montreal, November 29, 2022 – While the pandemic has highlighted a number of issues related to psychological distress, a topic that is increasingly present in the public discourse, 90% of Canadian business owners now say they are open to seeking support for a mental health issue. These are the findings of the Survey on SME owners’ mental health, recently conducted and released today by BDC. This study is part of a series of surveys BDC is conducting to gain insight into the mental health status of business owners across the country. According to a 2019 survey conducted prior to the pandemic by the Canadian Mental Health Association and supported by BDC, 16% of small business owners at the time said they were likely to seek professional help.1

The survey reveals that among those who report that they would be open to seeking support for a mental health issue, fear of a cash shortfall (62%) and the recession (51%) were identified as the main sources of stress.

To address mental health challenges, these business owners prioritize various coping strategies, including finding quiet time to relax (59%), getting physical activity (53%) and taking time off or vacation (43%).

“Canadian business owners are more open than ever to seeking mental health support when needed. That’s encouraging news,” says Annie Marsolais, Chief Marketing Officer and Mental Health Ambassador at BDC. “The fact that seeking mental health support is no longer as taboo as it was in the past is very positive.”

According to the report, which also addresses business owners’ perceptions of the mental health of their workforce, personal finances are the number one source of stress for half of their employees.

Work/life balance a key concern

Nearly half of the business owners surveyed cite work/life balance as a major source of stress (48%), which is reflected in the actions they are taking to promote good mental health among their team members. To support their employees in this area, the top two actions leaders are taking are to provide flexible schedules (55%) and additional time off (50%).

“The biggest source of stress for the business owners surveyed is finances, which is no surprise given the current economic climate. However, behind these concerns lies a particular consideration for their well-being and that of their staff. The solutions that these business owners are prioritizing reflect a transformation in the work environment: flexible schedules, additional time off, remote and hybrid work, and team-building activities,” adds Marsolais.

Business owners from diverse backgrounds more affected by mental health issues

The report shows that the sources of stress for business owners from diverse backgrounds are sometimes more acute than for all respondents combined. This is especially true of access to cash, which is a concern for nearly four in five business owners from LGBTQ2+ communities (79%), compared to 62% of those surveyed overall. The recession is also a concern for a larger proportion of business owners who are members of visible minority groups (66% vs. 51%).

BDC’s Survey on SME owners’ mental health was conducted among 753 small business owners across Canada between August 26 and September 9, 2022.

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 or join BDC on social media.


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