Article written by Alan Shannon (Nedbank Executive: Client Engagement – Professional Banking and Small Business Services)
There are increasing reports from across the world about the heavy toll that COVID-19 and the global lockdown responses have taken on people’s mental well-being. Many experts agree that the negative impact on the mental health of individuals may continue long after the physical risks have passed.
The Mental Health Atlas, created by the World Health Organisation (WHO), paints a disappointing picture of a worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting a growing need for mental health support. The latest edition of the Atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, gives a clear indication that, despite increased attention being given to mental health by a number of countries in recent years, this has yet to result in a significant upscaling of quality mental services aligned with identified and growing needs.
For entrepreneurs and business owners the strain placed on personal mental wellness has been compounded by the significant financial and operational challenges their businesses have faced since March 2020. The past 18 months have arguably been the most difficult time that any small or medium enterprise has ever had to deal with. Despite this, many SMMEs have shown real resilience and tenacity in the face of forced business closures and limited access to their customers, but that hasn’t diminished the stress and anxiety that most business owners have had to contend with.
As has been repeatedly demonstrated by COVID-19, there is a clear link between financial and mental health. So, as SMMEs have faced severe financial woes, this has led to business owners and employees succumbing to anxiety, stress, and depression.
Stress and anxiety are often dubbed the ‘silent killers’ of small businesses, so being able to access holistic business and financial support that helps to alleviate the stress of business owners and their employees is key to ensuring the survival of any business. For any small-business owner receiving proven guidance on effective ways to mitigate financial risks and avoid financial distress is in some ways as valuable as personal access to professional intervention for stress and anxiety.
Of course, that is not to say a business intervention could ever replace the value of psychotherapy, but for most business owners, receiving professional help and support from a financial institution that helps to build their business and reduce financial fears can be a valuable contributor to better mental health in general.
That is why Nedbank offers a host of value-added services to support small businesses and their owners that goes beyond transactional banking and finance. All South African entrepreneurs, whether Nedbank clients or not, can join the bank’s extensive, free business networking platform, SimplyBiz.co.za, and access a host of business support services, including an extensive entrepreneurial network, funding offerings, discount offers and business training opportunities – all designed to maximise the prospects for success and build resilience into any business. And Nedbank’s Essential Guide for Small Business Owners is another valuable free business-building tool that offers expert guidance and tips on all aspects of starting and running a small business.
If there is one thing that South Africa has in abundance, it is a dogged determination to rebuild, reposition and rise above challenges to achieve even greater success. Nedbank is equally determined to partner with the nation’s entrepreneurs, especially given that small-business owners are rightly considered the lifeblood of the economy. It is imperative that they get the resources they need to secure their financial and mental well-being so that they can continue contributing to the growth of the economy and the creation of employment.