Research reveals mental health concerns of freelancers and the self-employed ahead of Chancellor’s aid announcement

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set to announce freelance worker protection plan amidst Covid-19 fallout

Smart TMS research reveals startling reality of mental health concerns facing freelancers and the self-employed

  • A fifth – 20% of freelancers feel they cannot take time away from work to address mental health issues as it would be a detriment to the business
  • 15% of freelancers have had to turn to payday lenders or short-term finance solutions due to inconsistent payments BEFORE Coronavirus
  • Almost a quarter of freelancers said that they are too busy to think about their mental health, despite having consistent symptoms of anxiety/depression

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The economic and professional fallout surrounding the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in the UK has brought the mental health of the UK workforce under close scrutiny in recent weeks.

Despite the recent government announcements of financial aid packages to help businesses survive the downturn, there has so far been no mention of aid for the near 5 million freelance workers and self-employed individuals in the UK. 

Whilst Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce a package of support later today, there are growing concerns that huge numbers of self-employed individuals and sole traders stand to suffer from serious loss of business and inability to meet financial obligations, causing incredible strain on one’s mental health and ability to remain afloat.

It was recently reported that the size of the gig economy has doubled over the past three years and now accounts for 4.7 million workers and the flexibility offered by Britain’s freelancers is worth £21 billion to the UK economy in added value. However, the Coronavirus crisis could likely decimate this stable of workers, in the absence of significant financial support from the government.

With this in mind, mental health treatment specialists Smart TMS now reveal nationally representative research into the mental health profile of freelance workers, unveiling the startling reality of uncertainty and mental health concerns facing the self-employed in the UK:

  • A fifth – 19% – of freelancers said that they don’t have time to see a medical professional about their mental health
  • Almost a quarter – 22% – of freelancers said that they are too busy to think about their mental health, despite having consistent symptoms of anxiety/depression
  • A fifth – 20% – of respondents said that, as a freelancer, they feel that they cannot take time away from work to address mental health issues as it would be a detriment to the business
  • 15% of freelancers have had to turn to payday lenders or short-term finance solutions due to inconsistent payments, BEFORE Coronavirus
  • A quarter – 25% – of freelancers do not have the money to afford any sizeable commitments such as weddings, holidays, and home improvements
  • Almost a quarter – 23% – of freelancers work between 2 to 5 jobs at one time to support their income

Gerard Barnes, CEO of Smart TMS, provides the following commentary:

“It’s encouraging to see the government taking steps to offer some financial support to businesses across the UK, but there is still a huge proportion of the working population with no way to support themselves. Initiatives in large companies are all well and good, self-employed and freelance workers don’t have any infrastructure in place to help deal with the damage done to their livelihoods by Coronavirus, and the resulting stress and other mental health concerns.

It is absolutely vital for millions of workers across the UK that the Chancellor allocates considerable provisions to help them negotiate these troubling and turbulent times. Self-employed workers are an integral part of the UK’s economy and they must be valued in the same way as larger businesses.”