Skip to content

Identifying mental health concerns

Almost all mental health problems can be treated. Getting help early gives you the best chance of a full recovery.

Mental health concerns can affect small business owners of all ages and genders. It can touch those in rural or metropolitan areas and can affect people across a range of industries.

It can be hard to prioritise your mental health and maintain a work-life balance when you own a business, but it is crucial that you look after number one first and foremost. Working towards making sure you are in good health, both physically and mentally, will have positive benefits on your business too.

Knowing what to look out for and taking action early is important. It is good to look out for indicators in your behaviour and experiences which may demonstrate that things aren’t quite right at the moment. It is also important to identify potential problems early to reduce the impact they may have on your life and your business. If you experience mental health concerns, you are also at increased risk of physical health problems and injury at work. Getting help early can therefore bring multiple benefits.

If information on this page raises any issues for you or if you need immediate assistance, please contact one of these crisis services.

Have things changed for you?

Would you ignore a clunk in your car and just keep driving it to see what happens? A 'clunk' in your car may indicate a small problem that fixes itself with time - or it may indicate a much bigger problem. It is the same with our mental health, so it is always best to have it checked to be sure.

There are a number of early warning signs that indicate you may be experiencing mental health concerns.

Signs that it may be depression or anxiety

You may be experiencing depression or anxiety if, for more than two weeks, you have had an unexplained change in your behaviour. For example, you could be feeling more sad, miserable, worried or withdrawn than you usually are.

It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these behaviours from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you're experiencing depression or anxiety.

Have you been behaving differently?

A shift in behaviour may indicate mental health concerns. Be conscious of:

  • Not getting things done at work
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or forgetting things
  • Withdrawing from close family and friends
  • Avoiding particular places or situations
  • Not going out anymore, when you used to be quite social
  • Relying on alcohol or drugs to feel better.

Have you been feeling any of the following?

If you have been feeling any of the following consistently, make sure you talk to someone you trust or a GP. These feelings may include:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Irritable or frustrated
  • Lacking in confidence
  • Unhappy for no reason
  • Indecisive or finding decisions hard to make
  • Nervous, anxious or on edge
  • Worrying without being able to stop.

Have you found it difficult to switch off negative thoughts?

Negative thoughts can slowly creep in, so be sure to recognise when they start to take over. These may include:

  • 'I'm a failure' and 'I'm worthless'
  • 'Nothing good ever happens to me'
  • 'People would be better off without me'
  • 'I’m so afraid something bad will happen.'

How have you been feeling physically?

It is important to get help early as mental ill-health conditions are treatable. Be mindful of these physical warnings:

  • Tired all the time
  • Sick and run down
  • Headaches and muscle pains
  • Churning gut
  • Racing heart, tightening of the chest or quick breathing
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss or change of appetite
  • Significant weight loss or gain.

Depression affects one million Australians and anxiety affects two million Australians each year - so you are not alone if you are experiencing these thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Take action now

Mental health concerns are treatable, with early support being key to recovery. Take the first important steps by:

Completing the Ahead for Business Mental Health Check-Up to get some feedback on what the issue might be. It will take about five minutes to complete.

Making an appointment with your GP to talk about what you have noticed.

Talking to someone you trust about what has been going on such as a friend, family member or colleague.

Further reading

More Resources