Impact of self-employment on mental health

Self-employment is the preferred way to earn a living for an increasing number of people for a variety of reasons. To reduce the stress and cost associated with commuting, to improve work-life balance or accommodate personal commitments, to increase productivity and overall job satisfaction, or simply to achieve greater flexibility and autonomy at work. For people who suffer from mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders, self-employment provides the opportunity for them to effectively manage their difficulties in relation to their own capabilities, or even to avoid stigma in the workplace.

Setting up a business and working for yourself is a big step. It’s the dream for many, but it’s not desirable or suitable for everyone. Some people need the structure of traditional employment to stay motivated and focused, or to guarantee a steady and secure income. It is an incredibly effective coping mechanism for many individuals because it can provide a sense of value and purpose, and some people really thrive on human interaction in the workplace. However, the pressure and long working hours associated with many forms of conventional employment can have a negative impact on certain individuals, which can cause or exacerbate mental health conditions.

Job satisfaction

A number of important studies have been carried out to examine the impact of employment and self-employment on mental health. One such report by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) found that, out of the 1000 participants surveyed, 84% were more satisfied than typical employees. Many of these respondents worked longer hours, earned less money and were more isolated compared to when they were employed in conventional jobs, yet they reported being happier overall because they gained more freedom and control from self-employment.

Whilst people who are happy in life are not necessarily happy in their job, achieving a greater sense of job satisfaction can have a significant impact on the personal lives and general well-being of others. The majority of the population spends approximately 1/3 of their adult life at work. What a thought. Is it any wonder that our health and wellness is so affected by the jobs we do? If you’re an optimistic person with a positive outlook on life, you’ll likely derive higher job satisfaction whatever you do. However, if you suffer from a mental health condition, there’s a much greater chance that lower job satisfaction will affect your life outside of work.

Potential disadvantages of self-employment

One of the downsides of self-employment that discourages many people is financial uncertainty. There’s not guarantee of consistent income. This can lead to stress and anxiety, particularly for those who are the sole or chief wage earner in the household. For this reason, self-employment may not be the best course of action for people with anxiety-related disorders.

Another disadvantage is isolation. If you work for yourself, there’s a higher change that you’ll spend most of your working day on your own. If you don’t have a wide social circle, this could be a difficult adjustment. Solitary working is the dream for some people, but it can be detrimental to those who suffer from depression or are prone to loneliness.

Is self-employment the answer?

The key to determining whether you’ll derive a better quality of life and improve your mental health from self-employment requires careful consideration. It is important to truly recognise and understand your own needs and capabilities before making any such decision. There’s no hard and fast rule. it’s simply a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and doing what is best for you.

About Rachel Craig

Rachel Craig is the senior content writer and editor for Quality Formations Limited, the UK’s #1 company formation agency. An expert in her field, Rachel provides in-depth guidance and advice on UK company registration, corporate compliance and starting a new business.
Prior to joining Quality Formations, Rachel worked in research and customer service after obtaining a BA Marketing and an MA History of Art from the University of Glasgow. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, painting and spending time with her partner and their two untrainable dogs.

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