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Our Annual Report on Mental Health and Self-Employment

Every year, we ask the self-employed community about the relationship between their work and their mental health. Our report into how we felt in 2021 has been published.

Every year, we ask the self-employed a series of questions about their work and their mental health, to understand the relationship between the two, and the report into our findings from 2021's data has been published.

This year's report highlights some real positives:

+ 80% of us feel that being self-employed has a net positive effect on our mental health.

+ 40% of those new to freelance this year chose to become self-employed to improve their mental health compared to only 23% of the established freelancer

But also shines a light on some significant gaps and issues faced by the self-employed community at large, such as:

+ 1 in 2 of us have been not able to work due to poor mental health at some point whilst self-employed

+ 2 in 3 of us lack adequate support for our mental health at work

+ 84% of us have had our work negatively affected by poor mental health

Mental health at work is a critical part of creating a sustainable business and has had increased focus over the past decade, especially since research showed there's a 5:1 return on investment when you invest in employee wellbeing, but when you're self-employed, you've got no-one else looking out for you - no HR team, no line manager, no colleagues, and if your mental health starts to slip, you're not only putting your own wellbeing at risk, but the success of your business too.

Our survey aims to highlight the breadth of the challenges facing the self-employed, so that anyone who is considering moving into freelancing, anyone who is working for themselves, or those who work with the self-employed can be more aware of the things which have an impact, and actively design towards working well.

If there’s one thing which every year of research shows, there’s no single thing which influences everyone. Yes, there are many common experiences, but it's the long tail of things which influence our community’s mental health that we need to build awareness around.

As freelancers, we need to take care of ourselves in order to work sustainably.

As a community, we need to take shared responsibility to support each other.

And, as employers, we need to look after freelancers' mental health to get the best work from them.

If individuals want to embrace sustainable independent work, and businesses want to continue relying upon an independent workforce, we all need to take a shared responsibility for supporting the mental health of the self-employed.

View the full report here.