Mental health in the workplace is now a common theme, with many businesses incorporating employee wellness programmes and providing flexible working schemes. But what about entrepreneurs? From starting on their own with low resources to working with a small team, high pressures, and a lot of responsibility, it’s no surprise perhaps then that 58% of entrepreneurs suffer with mental health issues, that’s more than double compared to the general population.
Is it just a coincidence that the world’s greatest minds are sometimes the ones that struggle the most? It’s possible that mental illness and entrepreneurship are even more closely linked than we had thought. According to psychologists, people who are creative and motivated (traits commonly found in entrepreneurs) are more likely to have strong emotional states and therefore more likely to experience mental illness.
The very behaviours that make life seem unusually difficult sometimes are the same ones that tend to help entrepreneurs accelerate along their fast-paced journeys. In a way, the struggles of mental health may be incubating tremendous creativity that gives way to new ideas and solutions.
According to Mind, the amount of people experiencing mental health concerns has stayed the same for a long time, however suicide rates and self-harm is on the rise, perhaps denoting that whilst mental health is a consistent issue in society, the way people cope with mental health issues is getting worse. This brings us to consider how can we support people to understand their mental health better and in turn be able to cope with challenges better as they arise.
So, what can you do as an entrepreneur to look after your mental health?
Join a community. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, surrounding yourself with others who are on a similar journey can be really reassuring and ease the strain you feel from constant obstacles and challenges that are thrown your way as the founder of a business.
Get a hobby. Due to the heightened risks of running your own business vs working for someone else, it can be difficult to switch off and put work aside outside working hours. Many successful entrepreneurs have a physical hobby completely unrelated to their business, allowing them to switch their mind from work to play and leave the stress behind when it gets too much.
Practice mindfulness. Any successful business owner you speak to will tell you how important mindfulness is to maintaining a healthy mental state. Whether it’s through meditation, yoga, or simply remembering to breathe or write down your thoughts - practicing some form of mindfulness can help you to step back see things from a fresh perspective.
The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator in Brighton has started a campaign to support mental health. To kick off their support, they are running an event in partnership with the Prince’s Trust and The Good Business Club where entrepreneurs from different walks of life will be sharing their inspirational stories of how they got to where they are today. In the hope that by bringing people together to share their stories and getting people talking about mental health they can raise awareness and create a sense of community for anyone who feels alone.
‘The stories that made us entrepreneurs’ event will be held in August, you can book via Eventbrite and all ticket sales will go to Mind Brighton & Hove Charity.