Running a small business is a hugely rewarding life choice, but it also presents challenges for personal wellbeing.

Small business owners and the self-employed tend to try to struggle on through illness which can often exacerbate a condition, causing long-term problems. It’s also common to suffer with the stress and responsibility of running a business that cannot operate without you.

Mental health-related cases presented by small business owners and the self-employed to FSB Care, the medical and health advice service available to our members, have doubled over the last five years.

More broadly, there has been an increase in the number of mental health conditions across the UK’s workforce, and research shows that the annual bill for sickness absence currently sits at £29 billion.

We found that many of our members do make a conscious effort to look after their own wellbeing, and that of their employees, in various ways from offering flexible working arrangements, knowledge sharing clubs, allowing pets at work, to networking and taking regular aerobic exercise.

The FSB also supports local initiatives like the ‘Move More’ campaign in Sheffield, creating more awareness and encouraging people to get more active while at work – if you ask me, ideas like ‘walking meetings’ should be in everyone’s diary! Being aware of some of the simple steps that can be taken to increase wellbeing can really make a difference.

It’s estimated that one in four people experience mental health problems in any year. Better mental health support in the workplace not only reduces the impact on local NHS resources but could also save UK businesses up to £8 billion a year.

Please do visit our FSB Wellbeing in Small Business hub ( and see if you find the ideas and information there helpful or inspiring.

And join the conversation and share your own tips with us at @FSBSEYorks ‏ #FSBSEYorks

Claire Reading is Development Manager, South and East Yorkshire Federation of Small Businesses