Episode 49: Doing it Alone – Mental Health Status of Entrepreneurs



In the words of the iconic Steve Jobs: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

There has been alarming data showing that entrepreneurs are experiencing mental health problems that’s often not addressed.

There’s a study done by the Canadian Mental Health Association: Going it Alone – The mental health and well-being of Canada’s entrepreneurs.

  • Generally, entrepreneurs were likely to experience mental health issues frequently.
  • Nearly half (46%) of the entrepreneurs experienced low mood or felt mentally tired at least once a week, while three of five (62%) felt depressed at least once a week.
  • Nearly one in two (46%) felt that mental health issues interfered with their ability to work.
  • Nearly seven in ten (67%) were stressed about their business’s cash flow.
  • More than one-third (39%) were stressed about adequately fulfilling their responsibilities at work and at home.
  • They also experienced stress about finding the right talent for their company (36%) and due to high self-expectations (34%).
  • The degree of stress reported by entrepreneurs coincided with mental health concerns.
  • More than half reported experiencing feelings of inadequacy (51%) and more than half reported depressed mood (50%).

The impact of entrepreneurial stress not only affects the work of an individual entrepreneur, but also extends to their personal and professional relationships:

  • About three in five (66%) entrepreneurs face difficulty in maintaining worklife balance due to entrepreneurial stress.
  • More than half (54%) of the entrepreneurs reported that stress impacted their level of concentration at work.

Some entrepreneur groups are more likely to experience mental health issues than others.
• Female entrepreneurs reported feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy, depressed mood, and feeling overwhelmed with far greater frequency than did male entrepreneurs.

• Entrepreneurs whose businesses are in the earlier or “growth” stage were more likely to report experiences of stress and were more likely to report mental health concerns than their counterparts whose businesses were “mature.”

  • Entrepreneurs who belong to minority groups are more likely to suffer from mental health issues due to the stress and pressures caused by racism, discrimination, lack of resources, isolation … etc.

But how come the numbers are so high for entrepreneurs suffering from mental health problems?

  • Entrepreneurs are highly focused on their business development in the early stages to the extends that nothing else matters as much
  • Their self-worth is linked to the success.  They can’t allow the business to fail.
  • The world expects them to portray that successful image at all cost no matter how they are feeling

So what’s the solution? How can Entrepreneurs become better at managing their mental health?

  • Focus on the work, not the numbers.  This means that entrepreneurs need to understand that sometimes the numbers will look good and sometimes they will not.  So you should not be drastically effected by this all the time.
  • Having the attitude of “This too shall pass attitude.” Helps.
  • Invest in creative outlets.  Creative activities give the mind a feeling of productivity and fulfillment.
  • Journal Regularly.  Journaling is a way to keep tabs on your emotions. You can also identify patterns that signify deeper mental health problems and work to address them.
  • Don’t dismiss therapy. Many people find that they can manage high levels of anxiety by applying all their own helpful tools and strategies, but in some cases, these strategies don’t work.  And entrepreneurs need to seek the support of a mental health professional.

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