I’ve literally been surrounded by small business owners and entrepreneurs on a daily basis for the last SIX years and do you know what I just learned only two weeks ago? Entrepreneurs are significantly more prone to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
A psychiatrist and researcher at UC San Francisco, named Dr. Michael Freeman, found that 72% of entrepreneurs reported having a mental health history, in contrast to only 48% of comparison participants.” Additionally, “Of the entrepreneurs they studied, 30% had a history of depression, 19% had ADHD, 12% had substance abuse issues, and 11% reported having bipolar disorder.”
These numbers were alarming to me because I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 10 years and in all of the circles I’ve been in, this conversation is almost never centered. If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that we spend most of our time talking about the long list of things we need to do to be successful in our businesses. We are often balancing multiple jobs, relationship, families, and life, while also experiencing constant pressure around money, systems, customer service strategy, accounting, trademarking, marketing, team development and then oh yeah “self-care.”
This “push through” mentality, although a necessary part of the journey, often times pushes us right over the edge.
This was me. I pushed myself to a point where I couldn’t self-regulate anymore. The stress got to be too much and I became paralyzed. I could even will myself to send a text or email. Meanwhile, the business still had to run, so it did… but not like it should.
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, because … transparency, but also, my experience has made me realize how necessary it is to (1) listen to my body and take it seriously and (2) check in with my fellow entrepreneurs. Are you truly ok? Are you taking breaks? Do you have a plan for when you need to step away?
I’m encouraging each and everyone of you to stop everything and create a mental health plan that is specific to your business needs. Do you have consultants? Do you have mentors? Do you have operational support? And if not, how can you create space? For most of us, our businesses are our exit strategies, but you can’t exit if you burn out before you get there.