BDC survey reveals impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurs’ mental health

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A new report from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has revealed data on the COVID-19 pandemic’s alarming impact on entrepreneurs.

The report, which was conducted amongst 500 respondents from August 20 to September 1, indicated that 39 percent of business owners report feeling depressed at least once a week. Approximately two-thirds reported feeling tired or have low energy.

“Finding coping strategies and watching for warning signs of a bigger problem are important.”

“The fact that two-thirds of respondents feel tired, low or have little energy is worrisome and should be addressed,” said Joaquin Poundja, a psychologist at the Douglas Institute, in the report.

“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,” he added. “Finding coping strategies and watching for warning signs of a bigger problem are important.”

The report found certain groups are more at risk of reporting mental health challenges during the pandemic. Women are significantly (51 percent) more likely to feel depressed and 40 percent admitted mental health challenges interfered with their ability to work.

“Women are often in more precarious sectors and they have family responsibilities that men do not necessarily share,” said Michael DeVenney, president and founder of WorkInsights and the Mindset Project, who was quoted in BDC’s report. “As entrepreneurs, they face higher stress levels from more places.”

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The report also found that visible minorities are significantly more likely to say that mental health interfered with their ability to work. Thirty-three percent of respondents said they would like support from a mental health professional.

BDC’s report also noted that business owners who had not yet resumed activity since the initial COVID-19 lockdown were significantly more likely to feel tired and depressed. A further 57 percent stated that mental health challenges interfered with their ability to work.

The data provides some fresh insight into the group’s whose mental health is being adversely and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and economic recession. The information is hardly surprising considering the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on underrepresented workers.

A recent report from Prospect found that 61 percent of survey respondents who were without a job during the pandemic identified as a racialized person, a number more than double (2.7 times) the national population rate of 22 percent.

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Another study found that during the pandemic, the percentage of women-owned businesses that have laid off 80 percent or more of their staff is much higher than that of businesses overall

At the onset of the crisis, a study conducted by the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC) and Dream Legacy Foundation found that 85 percent of underrepresented entrepreneurs in Canada had experienced a loss in revenue, contracts, and cash flow.

According to BDC’s report, survey respondents’ biggest worries include generating enough revenue to make a profit and covering expenses.

The report also recorded respondents top coping mechanisms. These include taking time out and going for a walk, exercise, and talking to someone.

Image source Unsplash.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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