And what this ultimately means for our mental health
I know. I get it. You’re sick to the teeth and just want to move on with your life. Trust me, we all do.
I also want to discuss the aspect of Brexit that is often never talked about. Regardless of remaining or leaving and putting aside how this evolves, there is something pretty alarming about the decline of our trust in our government and the impact that Brexit is having on our mental health and wellbeing.
For the sake or argument, let’s look at Greece.
Although certainly not in the exact same position as the UK faces currently, over the past ten years, the world has watched as Greece struggled with an economic crisis.
And the toll has spilled past just business, money and jobs. It’s drastically effected the country’s mental health.
A New York Times article reported that, “The Council of Europe report noted that unemployed persons, bankrupt businessmen, or parents who have no means of taking care of or feeding their children were among new admissions to psychiatric units, most age 40 and older with no previous signs of mental illness.”
To make matters worse, Greece has continued to struggle to provide funds for their healthcare services, especially in regards to mental health support which has continued to have it’s budget cut year after year.
My concern for the future lies in this –
If there are too many honest people without work or too few that believe they matter, the delicate social contract bonding us all to each other and to the state can swiftly begin to disintegrate and fragment.
Simply put, while the UK continues to move the goal posts of the promises they make in regards to Brexit and the over all impact to our economy, our faith and security in our future continues to diminish.
“As we encounter an ever more stressful and unsteady climate, we are turning to those who offer answers (an issue not least for those who can’t afford the price of a self help book). Some of this anxiety must come down to more global patterns – climate change, say, or the fragility of democratic norms – but much can come down to the more prosaic matters of life: ability to pay the bills, job prospects, or simply the sense that we have a grasp on the future.” Reported March 2019 article by The Guardian.
With the past austerity drive by government cuts over the past few years, an increasing concern about how Brexit will impact our daily lives and our politics driving a toxic wedge between families, best friends and lovers, it’s no wonder that the NHS recently laid out how a number of domestic policies are adding to the rising demand of mental health care.
It wouldn’t be too far fetched to estimate an increase in crisis as Brexit approaches and October hits. If anything, I would be shocked to see a decrease in this crisis after Brexit happens. The conditions in which we live – our homes, family, jobs, income – are shaped by the decisions and promises made by politicians.
This is particularly true if you’re poor, disabled, an immigrant, or a woman and therefore more likely to be at the mercy of state support – and to take the biggest hit from Brexit-type economic shocks.
Our services and support for those suffering with poor mental health are already at breaking point. It’s tough to image how they will cope as more and more of us feel disconnected with our futures.
But let’s narrow the focus… Let’s have a look into what this means for the start up community and small businesses in regards to mental health.
Small businesses make up 99.3% of all UK private enterprises and employ 60% of all UK private employment. It is the backbone that powers our economy yet these same small businesses are the ones that stand to suffer the most from Brexit – deal or no deal.
In 2016, A Virgin StartUp report has revealed that budding entrepreneurs bring a £196 billion boost to the UK economy. Can we really afford to stifle this type of extra investment into our economy?
And what happens to all the small business owners and entrepreneurs once the dust settles, business doors shut for good and their mental health starts to decline as they watch their dreams evaporate?
16.3 million people work in SME’s, which doesn’t even account for the many others in the start up space. In a study reported in the Journal of Community Psychology, an analysis of employed respondents revealed that those who became unemployed had over twice the risk of increased depressive symptoms and diagnosis of clinical depression than those who remained employed.
However, in writing this article and trying to research what the impact is, both economic and personal in regards to mental health, I was shocked to find nothing.
I found thousands of articles written about the bigger concerns for those running businesses and the cost to their mental health but finding anything that also looked into the closure of these businesses due to Brexit and the toll of these individuals wellbeing was pretty impossible.
In my disparity, I tried to then break it down further by sector – In the UK’s startup tech sector, Brexit threatens to sever Europe’s strongest technology hub from the interconnected European ecosystem of technical talent, investment and expertise.
Look into the UK’s artisan food economy and you quickly start to understand the absolute chaos that has already begun in sourcing the right ingredients and finding a way to survive with already narrowing margins for startups that already have found it difficult to manage cashflow. What about the product lead businesses you say? Small businesses like PUSH that sell quality coffee tampers around Europe as well as across the wider globe are getting increasingly concerned about import and export taxes that they still don’t have a real number for. Any business trying to figure out an action plan is doing so with out all the pieces to the puzzle they need.
It’s one thing when you loose your startup or small business due to product/market fit, investment, lack of opportunity or bad team hires. It’s a whole other thing when you feel like you’ve lost your business simply because of a political choice that was made and handled poorly. The rapid growth that most startup ventures need to sustain in order to justify investment means that, more so than regular businesses, existential crises present themselves with regularity.
But how can we possibly believe that we can create an economy to support the high, rapid growth needed in this sector when we are also watching our pound plummet and opportunities close?
As everyone else in the government bickers between themselves for power, I’m keen to try and better understand the scope of what it will mean when startups and small businesses start to close their doors and their owners and founders (not even mentioning the vast about of employees) are left feeling disillusioned and betrayed by the futures they tried to create. We know that these type of enterprises are going to feel the backlash from exiting the EU the hardest and even if this is only temporary, we also know that keeping a small business alive is often a balancing act at the best of times.
Are you a founder or small business owner? Do you feel the uncertainly of the impact that Brexit will have on your business is effecting your mental health?
I’ve love to speak to you. Please reach out by sending me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org