The mental health of business owners has historically been overlooked by policymakers, but the recent psychological impact of the COVID pandemic on small businesses shows that mental health care should be considered a priority and evaluated as an anti-poverty tool. This study will evaluate the impact of cognitive behavior therapy delivered through virtual reality on job creation and business outcomes in youth and female-led enterprises in Nigeria via improvements in depression, stress, and anxiety.
The impact of the mental health of an employer on firm performance is a policy-relevant topic. Several studies show that poor mental health is related to negative labor outcomes. Although there is also a long history of research that focuses on employees' mental health and well-being there is little or no research on the mental health of employers. There are three reasons why this is relevant. First, the cognitive complexity and responsibility inherent in owner-manager roles might be sufficient to tax the mental well-being of the employer. Second, a characteristic of owner-manager jobs is social isolation and loneliness which is antithetical to mental health. Third, many employers carry the burden of employees' negative emotions (such as sadness, anger) and behaviors (e.g., aggression, undermining). Given the importance of an employer’s mental health to themselves, their employees, and the organization, it is vital to explore the impact of mental health therapy on owner-managers of small and medium-scale enterprises who face more business constraints in low- and middle-income countries.
This randomized controlled trial will examine the impact of cognitive behavior therapy delivered through virtual reality on job creation and business outcomes in youth and female-led enterprises in Nigeria via improvements in depression, stress, and anxiety. The project focuses on youth and female-led enterprises because one-in-four Nigerians are dealing with mental illness, with youth and women at high risk. This study utilizes virtual reality to deliver therapy because approximately 81% of individuals with mental health issues in Nigeria cannot access required medical care. There is also a paucity of mental health professionals in community-based and primary health-care services in the country.