Understanding mental health
Every year, we ask the self-employed community about the relationship between their work and their mental health.
Our report from the 2021 data has just been published.View report
Our third large scale research project asked over 500 participants about their relationship between work and wellbeingView research
Our second large scale research project asked over 500 participants about their relationship between work and wellbeingView research
Our first large scale research project asked over 500 participants about their relationship between work and wellbeingView research
Mental Health is increasingly a reason to go freelance
yet most didn't consider the impact of freelancing on their mental health before they become self-employed.
51% of our entire panel hadn't considered the potential impact of freelancing on their mental health before becoming self-employed.
43% of new freelancers (those who have been self-employed for 0-12 months) cite wanting to improve their mental health as a motivation to become self-employed - this is in contrast to established freelancers where only 18% say it was a reason.
Poor mental health has had an impact on the majority of freelancers' ability to work but few are actively putting things in place to improve it.
64% state that stress, anxiety or poor mental health has at some point had a negative impact on their ability to work since freelancing but only 29% say that looking after their own mental health is absolutely part of their plan to build a successful business. 32% of our group are spending 2 or fewer hours a week investing in their own mental health on average.
Even taking rest can lead to stress despite rest being critical for good mental health.
67.44% state that even taking time off creates stress, and 47% are stressed by a lack of control over their own working hours or workload, despite a quarter of the group citing more control over hours being a primary reason for becoming self-employed.
Isolation is a more of a problem this year
absolutely driven by the pandemic.
79% are spending more than 50% of their working time working alone, 58% are spending more than three-quarters of their time working on their own
72% say feeling isolated causes them to feel stress, which is a significant increase on last year when 59.3% said working alone wasn't causing them stress.
The self-employed don't feel supported by government, and it's not just a pandemic issue.
72.30% have said COVID and the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health
67.44% said they did not feel supported during COVID by government during the pandemic (this increases to 80.5% if you only consider limited company owners), and 85% say they don't feel supported as a small business by government generally.
Brexit (64%) and IR35 (39%) are still concerning for many too.
Too many freelancers don't have and cannot find the support they critically need.
68% don't feel they have adequate support for their mental health within the context of work.
64% don't know where they'd be able to get support for their mental health at work, as a self-employed professional.
Clients aren't doing their part to support their freelancers and bad client behaviours are leading to stress and poorer mental health.
71% don't feel their employing organisations or clients have their emotional wellbeing in mind in any way, and over 80% would like their clients to take some shared responsibility towards their mental health.
Common causes of stress and negative impact of mental health directly under the control of clients include:
Having to chase late/unpaid invoices (62.79%)
Poor communication from client (73.5%)
Lack of on-boarding / project kickoffs (54.9%)
Lack of feedback (34.8%).
But despite all this - there's still optimism.
89.85% say uncertainty around the future is worrying them.
But 65% are still feeling positive about 2021 professionally.
Work with us to access insights from our community, or let us help you work with your community to understand their needs and experiences. Contact our partnerships team for more.