Small business owners have a critical role to play in talking about mental health and helping destigmatise it in the workplace, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Recent FSB research shows that one in five (19%) of small businesses say that they have recruited an individual with a mental health condition in the last three years. More one in five (21%) cases to FSB Care, the health and medical advice service to FSB members, are related to mental health issues in the last quarter.

Given statistics show approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year it shows the importance of those running small businesses and the self-employed to look after their mental health.

In response to the research, FSB has today launched a new campaign aimed at promoting good mental health among small businesses and the self-employed. The campaign, ‘It’s okay to talk about mental health’, will try to provide the UK’s 5.7 million small business community with information and advice to help them gain a better understanding of mental health and how it can affect their employees.

It will also give small business owners practical ideas to support them in helping destigmatise mental health and addressing it in their workplace. FSB has worked closely with mental health charities Mind and Mental Health First Aid England in developing the campaign and a special guide for small business owners.

In 2017 the Government commissioned Thriving at Work – the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers. The report revealed that over 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry, spoke of his own father’s struggles with depression and the need for small business owners to address mental health in the workplace.

Cherry said: “Mental health is a huge challenge for society. Government, business owners, and each of us as individuals can work together to help destigmatise mental health and create an open environment where we can all talk about, and take care of, each other’s mental health.”

“My own father suffered from depression for many years, something which impacted his ability to run and manage the family business. In fact, it was partly due to this that I decided to leave school when I was only sixteen in order to help run the business. Although, I have no regrets about that decision – and have enjoyed a very rewarding career running my family business – it has made me very conscious of the impact poor mental health can have on small business owners, as well as employees.”

“Despite the impact poor mental health can have on a business, many small business owners are still reluctant to talk about it. I believe that we, as business owners, must play a critical role in talking about mental health in the workplace and lead the way in both destigmatising mental health in the workplace and acting to help our people when they are struggling.”

“By both talking about it and addressing it, we can help promote an open environment where people feel comfortable talking about the issues that are affecting them, work out what positive changes we can make in the workplace, and make some progress to help each other.”

FSB’s campaign will last all of this week. FSB was one of the key programme partners that helped to shape and produce the ‘Mental Health at Work’ employer gateway alongside Mind and the Royal Foundation’s Head Together Charity.