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MYOB research finds mental health both immediate concern and difficult discussion for 1 in 3 small business owners

The survey of 1,000 SME owners and operators across the country finds: 

  • In running their business over the last 12 months, 53% SME owners said it has caused them stress, up slightly on 2021 (52%) and 2020 (45%).

  • 44% cited personal feelings of anxiety and 1 in 5 said they have experienced depression over the past year.

  • 55% of SME owners feel responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

  • 61% think there is more they can do to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

MYOB Chief Employee Experience Officer, Helen Lea, said the findings come at an already stressful time for business owners with cost-of-living concerns for consumers, inflationary and supply chain pressures for businesses and EOFY just around the corner.

“The 2.3 million registered SMEs in the country are a group of passionate business owners who work incredibly hard and have faced many setbacks in recent times. As rewarding as running a business can be, these pressures can impact the wellbeing of those who lead them,” Ms Lea said.

“We’ve been monitoring the mental health of business owners since 2020, and while the topic has always been important, the findings are a clear reminder that this remains a major concern. The research shows that both SME owners and their teams need support, highlighting the necessity of using and providing tools to enable important conversations with their teams.”

Over half of SME business owners are aware of how they can access resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff (56%) and would be open to introducing initiatives for their employees (53%), an encouraging start for a group that represents the nation's largest employer.

For Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, the findings reiterate the pressure faced by small businesses owners.

“Small businesspeople take on a big and often stressful responsibility running a business. It is not just an enterprise but their life – often their home and mortgage, family and identity are all tied together,” Mr Billson said.

“And beyond this big responsibility at the best of times, small business owners and leaders have had and continue to navigate unexpected and at times insurmountable challenges from well outside anything they could have anticipated or controlled.

“This can feel unrelenting and it is vitally important to look after your emotional well-being and mental health. Sometimes it can be as simple as making time to pause, reflect and reconnect. Talking to trusted advisers and networks is a great way to find solutions. And it is so vital to reach out for help and that’s where the Smiling Mind app and tools and resources on our website can be useful.”

With mental wellness playing a critically important role in the success of SMEs, since 2020 MYOB has partnered with Australia’s Number 1 mindfulness app, Smiling Mind, to create the Small Business Program – a psychologist-designed program to support the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of small business owners.

Smiling Mind’s CEO, Dr Addie Wootten, stresses the importance of continuing conversations around workplace mental health post-COVID, and says new additions to the Small Business Program are coming soon to the app.

“The latest research shows mental health conversations are a tricky subject for many small business owners. I’d encourage all business leaders to acknowledge that while it might be uncomfortable, it’s important to lead by example and create a safe environment to have open conversations to support your team members and colleagues. You don't need to know how to solve problems. Simply letting them know you’re available if they need, or directing them to resources that can help, can make a big difference.  

“It’s crucial that mental health and wellbeing stays high on the agenda as we move out of COVID, as businesses are clearly still being impacted in various ways. Supporting SME owners to equip themselves in managing their own wellbeing and that of their teams has never been more important, and to that end we will be adding more content to our small business program over the coming months.  

“Our aim is to make these practices and strategies as accessible as possible to an already resilient community, with the hope it provides as much support and relief as possible.  We are proud to work with MYOB to deliver free, easily implementable tools that can help support small businesses during challenging times. The Smiling Mind Small Business Program also provides proactive, preventative wellbeing support to equip SMEs before they reach a moment of overwhelm.”

The Small Business program is free to access via the Smiling Mind app, offering users guidance on topics such as stress management, managing work/life balance, managing isolation, supporting growth and building resilience.

For more information about MYOB and Smiling Mind’s Small Business Program, visit:


About MYOB

MYOB is a leading business platform with a core purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. MYOB delivers end-to-end business, financial and accounting solutions direct to businesses employing between 0 and 1000 employees, alongside a network of accountants, bookkeepers and consultants. For more information visit or follow MYOB on LinkedIn.

About MYOB Business Monitor

The MYOB Business Monitor researches business performance and attitudes regarding areas such as profitability, cash flow, pipeline work, technology usage and the government. This report presents the summary findings for key indicators from the MYOB Business Monitor comprising a national sample of 1,000 business owners, managers and directors (operators), conducted from March 22 to April 21, 2022. The businesses participating in the online survey were both non-employing and employing businesses. All data has been weighted by industry type, location and number of employees, which are in line with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS - Counts of Australian businesses, including entries & exits - 8165.0).

About Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind is a not-for-profit with a vision to help every mind thrive. Our goal is to create generational change in the mental health of Australians. Our mission is to provide life-long, evidence-based tools and the essential mental fitness skills needed to underpin good mental health and resilience from an early age.