Are the pressures too much? SME NZ is being impacted by mental health woe. 

A Government Mental Health Inquiry carried out in New Zealand estimates one-in-five New Zealanders experience mental illness or significant mental distress in their lifetime and costs the economy upward of $12 billion a year.

Small business owners and employers are legally responsible for managing the physical health and safety of themselves and their employees under the Safety at Work Act 2015. Business owners and employers under the same act, are also obligated to manage mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.  If you’re ill equipped this can be a strain but having adequate processes and policies in place to support your own mental health as an employer, and for your employees, is vital.

Large companies will have more resources and dedicated HR or access to things like EAP services. Smaller businesses, however, can find it an intimidating minefield to manage these expectations, and so starts a vicious cycle of poor employer mental health impacting employee mental health, impacting employer mental health…

According to a recent article in NZBusiness “Nearly two-fifths of female business owners (39 percent) say they have experienced a mental health condition, while a quarter (26 percent) of men say the same”.

“Of those who have been affected by a mental health condition, more than half (59 percent) say they experienced depression, while two-fifths (41 percent) say they had anxiety”.

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand is keen to emphasise wellbeing in the workplace for 2019.

“Workplaces that prioritise mental health have better engagement, reduced absenteeism and higher productivity, while people have improved wellbeing and greater morale” – The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

They cite the role of leadership as being a vital way to positively impact a workplace.

As a leader the ways you can make a difference are to create a shared sense of purpose, really listen to your crew, set clear expectations, set the tone and lead by example.

Access the full five ways to wellbeing at work tool-kit here and start making some positive changes today.

If you’re struggling as an owner or employer of a SME with mental wellbeing, don’t forget you can always consult with your GP. You can also source some help or advice from someone on this list.

AdviceFirst is a Financial Advice Provider (FSP23242).