This text is part of the special Business Challenges section
A survey carried out between August 22 and September 10 by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec (FCCQ) among its members reveals that 57% of respondents have already suffered or know a business leader who has already suffered from health problems mental illness requiring time off work. “With these figures, we are sounding the alarm. Beyond 50%, it’s absolutely terrible,” confides Charles Milliard, president and CEO of the FCCQ.
This survey — not published, but The duty was able to consult — is in addition to that which the BDC published last May and bringing to 45% the proportion of business owners in the country having encountered mental health problems over the past year. These results, obtained from 1,500 respondents, highlight the difficulty entrepreneurs have in balancing work and personal life as well as their vulnerability to rising costs. “Businesses had barely healed from the pandemic when the economy began to falter. These upheavals make it particularly difficult for an entrepreneur to stay afloat,” underlines Annie Marsolais, head of the marketing department and mental health ambassador at BDC.
Measures for entrepreneurs
By integrating the notion of mental health into its reform of the occupational health and safety regime, the Quebec government demonstrated an awareness in 2021. The CNESST also announced on August 15, in support of this reform , the addition of 18 advisors responsible for promoting mental health at work. An action well received by the entrepreneurial community: “Any initiative that focuses on prevention and awareness of mental health is welcome and necessary,” says Annie Marsolais.
However, these resources will not necessarily benefit the mental health of business owners, believes Charles Milliard. “I think this takes targeted action for entrepreneurs. Their distress is not more or less than that of employees, but it is different. »
Required to take risks, subject to a precarious income, and sometimes carrying responsibility for multiple departments, business owners also often find themselves alone in making important decisions. “Entrepreneurs are recognized as being a category apart because they are subject to quite specific stress factors, in addition to being exposed to great professional loneliness,” underlines Mylène Tremblay, consultant in organizational psychology and doctor of psychology. work and organizations.
The power of peer support
In their search for support, business owners are not turning away from professional services. “More and more entrepreneurs are requesting these services to ask for help, particularly the younger generations,” underlines Annie Marsolais. However, the cost of care, uncertainty about services received, and difficulty talking about mental health issues often come into play. “The cost, the access and the stigma,” summarizes the ambassador. The BDC will also launch a pilot project for virtual and anonymous therapy with its clients this fall in order to overcome these challenges.
Another avenue, the survey carried out by the FCCQ made it possible to identify the interest of entrepreneurs and business leaders in setting up an emergency line intended to support them psychologically. “In the form of professional services, but also active listening, among others from entrepreneurs who have gone through a difficult situation in terms of managing a business,” underlines Charles Milliard.
This type of exchange between people sharing the same professional reality would help in particular to defuse the stigma associated with the expression of psychological difficulties: “Rely on peers who understand their daily work context and the challenges they face. face is very reassuring, very normalizing, for entrepreneurs. This also allows us to have solutions that are extremely interesting,” says Mylène Tremblay.
Specialized Facebook groups, networking activities, mentoring, or even participation in co-development teams… “No matter how they communicate, if we want to get entrepreneurs out of professional solitude and satisfy their need for social affiliation, these groups can only have positive repercussions on their psychological health,” believes Mylène Tremblay, who nevertheless insists on the preventive nature of these exchanges.
The advisor also invites entrepreneurs who are starting out to identify — while setting up their business model — their strengths as well as their sources of stress and the ways in which they manifest themselves. “They will then be able to react better, and take time to recharge their batteries according to what suits them, whether it is sport, relaxation or through food. »
An economic concern
Canadian businesses with employees are the vast majority of small businesses (more than 98% of them in 2021). This particularity therefore makes the mental health of entrepreneurs a problem with serious consequences for the economy, especially in a context of labor shortage.
“Younger people are spoiled for choice, and current bosses have seduction work to do, which puts a mental burden on many of them. The need for targeted support for entrepreneurs is not just a question of well-being, it is a question of the survival of our entrepreneurial fabric,” believes Charles Milliard.
This content was produced by the Special Publications team at Duty, relating to marketing. The writing of the Duty did not take part.