Business owners have been seeking counselling for stress through the pandemic

Business owners have been seeking counselling for stress through the pandemic

An online counselling firm working with businesses whose staff needed help with stress and anxiety saw demand shoot up by 84 per cent over the past year.

Healing Clouds – whose clients include Tesco, HSBC and Crowdcube – said that they are now counselling 3,500 people across the UK compared to 1,900 one year ago.

The rise is highlighted in a report by Harper James Solicitors, which details the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the mental health of business owners.

>See also: City mayors warn of mental health pandemic among self-employed

Toby Harper, CEO of Harper James Solicitors, said: “The pandemic has made it harder to separate family life from work life. And running a business, particularly as a sole founder, can be a very lonely place. The Government obviously has a massive job in rebuilding the economy and supporting businesses who have faced such a challenging year will be very important.

“But it’s vital too that those in charge of Government policy show awareness of the impact the last 12 months has had on the mental health of those running businesses. For many it will be a long road back.”

The report comes on the eve of Boris Johnson putting the UK into the first lockdown back in March 2020.

Deliveroo founder, Rob Kniaz and former The Apprentice winner, Leah Totton, have spoken out about how the last year has affected their mental health.

>See also: Jackie Fast: ‘I can say that I didn’t love being in The Apprentice house’

Mr Kniaz, 41, who has backed tech giants including Deliveroo and Babylon, said: “It’s drained me being locked inside most days.

“Is this issue discussed enough? Probably not. Being a founder is mentally exhausting all of the time and you only see the success stories and not the other 95 per cent of cases that end poorly for founders. It’s an excruciating job full of highs and lows and being isolated makes getting through the lows even harder because you can’t see friends in similar scenarios and share their journeys.”

Ms Totton, 33, who is now a business partner of Lord Alan Sugar, says: “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work, everyone needs to take time out to look after their mental health. As a society we need to be mindful that long after this virus has gone many people may still be struggling to cope with the impact it has had. They must be given proper care and support.”

Many business owners felt the same.

Barry Searle, 37, the managing director of Intqual Pro, which has run a series of Covid specific wellbeing webinars during the pandemic, said: “We need an urgent study to understand the extent and long-term impact to the population. Access to mental health support in the UK was already way underfunded and barely available. I don’t feel that the Government understands or wants to prioritise the potential drastic increase in demand.”

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Small business owners reveal how they’ve handled mental health and COVID-19

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