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An Entrepreneur’s Mental Health Stigma: The Why and How of Mental Illness Among Business Founders

An Entrepreneur’s Mental Health Stigma: The Why and How of Mental Illness Among Business Founders

When’s the last time you took a mental health day from work to relax, de-stress, and focus on self-care?

Still thinking? It’s probably been a very long time.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about one in 20 people will experience serious mental health issues in their lifetime. In particular, entrepreneurs can experience extreme stressors in the workplace. The need to always push oneself coupled with the stigma surrounding mental health may contribute to the problem.

The Mental Health Risks Entrepreneurs Face in the Workplace

Did you know that entrepreneurs experience higher-than-usual averages of mental health issues? A study highlighting the increased mental health risks entrepreneurs face reports that entrepreneurial participants were 49% more likely to report having a chronic mental health condition. The study also found that entrepreneurs were more likely to suffer from:

  • Depression (30%)
  • ADHD (29%)
  • Substance abuse (12%)
  • Bipolar disorders (11%)

Those numbers help illustrate the challenges many entrepreneurs struggle with in their lives.

Why Do Entrepreneurs Face Increased Risks Regarding Mental Illness?

Several factors can contribute to the cause of mental health issues among business founders. Why are entrepreneurs more likely to suffer from depression and other mental illnesses? Here are a few reasons why.

Stress and Anxiety

Building, launching, and running a business involves a lot of hard work and responsibilities. Most people, especially those highly driven ones, can handle a bit of stress. However, experiencing chronically high stress levels may result in self-neglect, such as sleepless nights, working non-stop, skipping meals, or an unhealthy diet. Abandoning self-care may also lead to increased feelings of depression and anxiety. 

Mental Isolation from Friends and Family

Founding a business is a rewarding experience, but it can create unintentional isolation from your family, friends, and loved ones. Such isolation may lead to feelings of loneliness, especially for people in the first stages of building their company.

When we experience feelings of depression, anxiety, or a low mood, it may be difficult to reach out to our support system – we may experience feelings of shame or assume we will be misunderstood. For example, if you feel others will not understand your entrepreneurial hardships, it might prevent you from opening up or attaining that level of human connection and support.

Genetic Predisposition

Genetic predisposition is another factor that contributes to increased mental risks for entrepreneurs, business founders, and the self-employed.

Referencing the same study we mentioned earlier, researchers found that entrepreneurs reported more mental health concerns amongst their first-degree relatives when compared to the control group. 

The Entrepreneur’s Mental Health Stigma of Shame and Silence

Unfortunately, the stigma of shame, fear, and weakness surrounding mental health may prevent many from seeking treatment that could help decrease their symptoms. However, we can begin to decrease the stigma by having open conversations regarding mental health. Educating and raising awareness within the entrepreneurial community may be beneficial. Furthermore, creating an environment where entrepreneurs and like-minded business people feel comfortable enough to discuss mental health without fear of judgment. 

Ways We Can Address and Prevent Mental Health Issues?

You already know that becoming a successful entrepreneur involves considerable work, long hours, unwavering dedication, and grit. Fortunately, you can adopt beneficial coping strategies and make proactive changes to manage stress and anxiety.

Implementing self-care is foundational. Here are some ways to actively engage in  self-care:

  • Get regular exercise or live an active lifestyle
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Practice meditation or mindfulness
  • Learn a hobby or explore new interests
  • Practice good sleep hygiene 
  • Do something that brings you peace or joy

Entrepreneurs may also benefit from leaning on a mental health support system, including family, friends, mentors, and coaches.

Mastermind groups are another method that may provide help and guidance for business founders. By sharing thoughts, feelings, and struggles, fellow entrepreneurs may gain vital personal insights or solutions to common obstacles that can derail their mental health. 

Most importantly – Do not hesitate to ask for help if you’re struggling.

Dr. Carolina Raeburn at Raeburn Psychology

At Raeburn Psychology in Miami, FL, Dr. Carolina Raeburn provides a client-centric approach to therapeutic health and wellness. As a licensed clinical psychologist, she focuses on confidentiality, integrity, and honesty as the foundation for connecting with her clients.

In particular, those in the entrepreneurial community including self-made business founders, entrepreneurs, investors, and venture capitalists may benefit from Dr. Raeburn’s bespoke treatment plans for addressing mental health concerns and negative feelings, while increasing awareness of the entrepreneur’s mental health stigma.

Take your first step on the path to mental wellness and schedule an appointment at Raeburn Psychology in Miami by calling (786) 788-8506 today. 

*All the information published in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Any information provided here is offered in generic form. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.


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