An entrepreneur who suffered from an anxiety disorder for more than 30 years suspects that nine out of ten business owners do not speak honestly about their mental health.

David Beeney suffered in silence as he believed that revealing his mental health problems would harm his career.

After 35 years working in a corporate environment, 13 of them for Auto Trader – latterly as commercial director – he founded Breakingthesilence in 2016 to reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

“I suspect that as many as nine out of ten entrepreneurs are not honest about their mental health,” he told BusinessCloud.

“They would perceive it as being seen as a weakness and would regard it as a vulnerability.”

He now helps organisations implement mental health and wellbeing strategies.

“Employers need educating on how to create cultures of trust where employees feel safe to talk honestly about their mental health,” he continued.

“They also need to educate all people managers on how to signpost professional support, ensuring that managers do not feel they have to fix any sufferers themselves.” 

→ Beeney will be speaking at our Entrepreneurs and mental health breakfast on 10th April. Book now

A qualified mental health counsellor for Mind, Beeney says that technology is contributing to mental health problems.

“Without a doubt [this is the case],” he said. “The mobile phone has extended the hours we are available to our colleagues considerably and has also increased the pace of everything.

“Social media has also had a negative impact as we now strive even harder to keep up with the ‘perfect life’ of our neighbours.”

Research has shown that mental health problems in the workplace cost UK employers £26 billion per year, averaging £1,035 per employee.

A quarter of people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year while one in six people will suffer from a common mental health problem – such as anxiety and depression – in any given week.

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