The suicide prevention line for the self-employed, launched on Wednesday by Wallonia’s Labour and Health Minister Christie Morreale, has been welcomed by their union, the Neutral Union for Freelancers (SNI).
Quoting a survey in which 738 freelancers participated, the SNI noted that “about 55% say they are very stressed, as against 10% before the crisis” caused by the novel Coronavirus.
It added that its counsellors reported receiving calls from self-employed persons clearly expressing suicidal thoughts.
“The self-employed suffer particularly from the financial implications for their businesses,” the SNI noted. “They also feel that poor communication around support measures, late payments and the red tape they go through to obtain their due are additional factors that weigh on them psychologically.”
Many have seen their turnover drop to under half of what it normally is, the union stressed. “At the height of the crisis, 52% of entrepreneurs had cash-flow problems; that is still the case today for one in every three,” it added.
The main symptoms of the entrepreneurs’ malaise are fatigue, discouragement and anxiety.
The SNI said the support measures that have been implemented have generally worked well, but at least one in every five entrepreneurs fears for the future.
“We expect an increase in bankruptcies: 20% of trading establishments, 25% of hospitality businesses and over 30% of businesses in the events and culture sector risk going bust without support measures,” warned SNI President Christine Mattheeuws.
The Brussels Times