Rural small business owner management of their mental wellbeing during 2020

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Economic and other data highlight the vital role that small business plays in rural communities. Owners are motivated to employ locals and maintain the vitality and viability of their communities, reducing population drift to cities. Small businesses are heavily dependent on individuals, especially owners. However there is little research available on the health and wellbeing of small businesspeople. Small business ownership is associated with onerous workloads, isolation, and other threats to mental wellbeing. Rurality is also associated with business stressors, such as natural adversities and market fluctuations. COVID-19 brought new challenges to small businesspeople, many of whom operate with minimal resource reserves and must interact with diverse customers, suppliers and the public. This study aimed to explored the question How did rural small businesspeople experience and manage their mental wellbeing through the pandemic in 2020?
METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were held between August and September 2020 using Zoom and phone with 11 owners of NSW rural small businesses (RESULTS: Owners were vulnerable to severe impacts on their mental wellbeing from COVID-19. All interviewees experienced business decline during the ‘pandemic recession’, and many felt burdened by extra unpaid work associated with meeting public health requirements. The ability to adapt was important for maintaining positive mental wellbeing. Four main themes of adaptation were associated with owners’ positive mental wellbeing 1. Maintaining or establishing connections with other businesses, community, friends and loved ones. 2. Capacity to change business processes and practices to meet disease control needs. 3. Positively reframing one’s situation and priorities. 4. Prioritising one’s own wellbeing, making time for exercise, recreation and enjoyment.
IMPLICATIONS: COVID-19 highlighted challenges to operating small business in rural communities and dealing with adversities. Rural communities can benefit from interventions that improve small businesspeople’s mental wellbeing. Policymakers and communities can support rural small businesspeople’s mental wellbeing with interventions that raise appreciation of the importance of their own mental wellbeing to the success of their business; improve mental health literacy and self-help skills; help build capacities to connect in their personal and professional lives.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2022
EventWHRN2022 Research Symposium and Researcher of the Year Awards: Interweaving the threads: Tying rural health policy to rural health research - Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo, Australia
Duration: 24 Oct 202225 Oct 2022 (Proceedings)


ConferenceWHRN2022 Research Symposium and Researcher of the Year Awards
Abbreviated titleInterweaving the threads: Tying rural health policy to rural health research
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Rural small business owner management of their mental wellbeing during 2020'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this