Five years ago this week I lost my best mate to suicide. There were no…
Stress, Anxiety, Mental Health and Your Business
Last week my step-son took his own life. On the face of it, he had a loving wife, a beautiful three-year-old daughter, a new home and a successful Small Business.
No signs that life was overwhelming or that depression was lurking, nothing. So, why? We will never know the real reason. We can only guess and be grateful for the 31 years he was on this earth.
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44.
I was shocked on reading this. It took losing someone close to us to realise there needs to be more focus and funding on the prevention of suicide.
Here are some startling statistics drawn from the Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2017:
- In 2017 3,128 people died from intentional self-harm. An increase of 9.1% from 2016.
- That equates to 12.6 per 100,000 people.
- This equates to more than eight deaths by suicide in Australia each day.
- Breaking this down further, the death rate for males was 19.1 deaths per 100,000 males (75.1%).
- For females, it was 6.2 deaths per 100,000 females (24.9%).
- Deaths by suicide in Australia occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females. However, during the past decade, there has been an increase in suicide deaths by females.
Mental health care tips for the solo business owner.
Running your own business is hugely rewarding but, the sole responsibility for the success or failure of your business is on your shoulders.
Considering that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, the most common being anxiety and depression, you need to stop and think about how you care for yourself.
You will face challenges that can affect your mental health, including:
- Working long hours regularly.
- Feeling the need to be always available – emails, social media, telephone.
- Not talking about your business worries with someone who understands.
- Wearing all the business hats – that constant juggling.
- Carrying the responsibility of cash flow to support others such as family.
Work-related stress is real and whilst stress is not a mental health condition long term or excessive stress can lead to conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Steps you can take to care for yourself:
- Limit working extra hours.
- Set your alarm that reminds you to turn off your emails, phone, social media at a set time then remember to do it. Set these boundaries between work and home.
- Join a local business group of like-minded people who understand what running a solo or Small Business is really like. Find a trusted person in the group to discuss, share and support each other.
- Ensure good nutrition, exercise and time out for you is built into your schedule.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Tips for a mentally healthy work environment.
Whatever size your business is, provide:
- A positive workplace culture – An environment where your people feel good about coming to work. Where employees feel supported, encouraged and they belong.
- Where stress and other mental health risks are managed – Have an awareness of heavy workloads and constant deadlines. Maintain strong lines of communication and inclusion; an open environment of transparency to alleviate uncertainty.
- Where people with a mental health condition are not afraid to say so – Sadly, the statistics show us that employees would rather take a sick day than a mental health day. Many feel they may lose their job or be judged wrongly. Helping employees stay at work or return to work has clear benefits for both the employee and the business.
- Maintain a zero tolerance to discrimination – This is a legislative requirement, of course, but think about it. Anyone of us may experience some type of mental health concerns over our lifetime. Anxiety, depression; in these busy times when we try and be and do everything there is a greater potential. Say no to any form of discrimination and embrace a diverse workplace.
It is hard to comprehend what my step-son was feeling to the very core of his body – what triggered him. He will be loved and remembered and used as a reminder that life is too short, live each day with love and gratitude.
Allow people (employees, colleagues, family, friends) to know they can reach out to you with no judgement.
Contact details if you are seeking assistance:
- Lifeline – Call 131 114
- Your workplace Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Mental Health Resources and Service Providers Online – https://headtohealth.gov.au/service-providers
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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