London, UK, Nov. 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues compared to just 48% of non entrepreneurs. That’s according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health. 49% of entrepreneurs deal with mental health issues directly while only 32% of others experienced them. Similarly, 23% of entrepreneurs have family members who face these issues compared to just 16% of others with family members who face these same types of issues.
Destigmatizing the Mental Health of Entrepreneurs
Throughout my journey, I have observed how complex mental health can be. It ranges from good moments to bad moments, and your mental health can change without a moment’s notice. The entrepreneurs I interact with in my daily life, as well as I myself, experience this regularly either directly or indirectly through those we surround ourselves with.
I have studied the science of brain health and mental wellbeing at Heights, interviewed over 100 entrepreneurs on the Secret Leaders Podcast, and hosted dinners with over 500 founders through my invite only community for founders called Foundrs. Through all of this, I have learned a lot about the way mental health affects entrepreneurs and the reasons why they don’t talk about it.
When it comes to mental health, I have found that there are generally three types of personas that entrepreneurs take on:
Fake it till you make it- Those who pretend everything is going perfectly.
Working on myself- Those who have accepted their flaws, shortcomings, and mental health challenges.
Completely transparent- Those who not only accept their flaws but also actively work to help others with the flaws and challenges they face.
It has become clear to me that more and more entrepreneurs are beginning to accept that they are not perfect, but most of them are still afraid to openly admit it.
The reason most people are afraid to acknowledge and confront their flaws, shortcomings, and mental health issues is because being anything less than perfect can be seen as a sign of weakness by those around you. Also, with everyone around you seeming to be perfect (even if they are not), you feel the need to also come across as perfect.
On the contrary, more and more people are being open and vulnerable about what they face because it makes them seem more human and helps them better create a sense of understanding and trust with those around them.
Now, let’s explore the three types of mental health personas most entrepreneurs have.
Fake it Till You Make it
Fake it till you make it entrepreneurs pretend that everything is going perfectly for them. In fact, they try so hard to believe that everything is going well that they often believe themselves that everything is fine. They can often become blind to the problems which they are facing because they are so hell bent on having everything be perfect. In their case, it can often be easier to ignore their problems than to admit that they are not perfect.
This type of entrepreneur feels the need to tell everyone about the great things that they are achieving while ignoring or suppressing the bad things. The less experienced entrepreneurs usually tend to fall into this category because they feel they need to present themselves this way in order to be accepted into the community of entrepreneurs and if they want to be taken seriously. Being in this category can be seriously detrimental to your mental health. Entrepreneurs who are more experienced and in the other categories often help entrepreneurs in this category progress their mindset to enter the other categories.
Work on Myself
Work on myself entrepreneurs are at the stage where they realize their flaws and shortcomings and mental health issues, but they are not ready to openly acknowledge them. They tend to be more introverted as they spend time alone working on themselves and improving both their skills and their mental state.
Because they are busy being selfish, for all the right reasons, and working on themselves, they can often miss out on time with friends and family. However, this is not true of all entrepreneurs in this category. Some find social and family time to be a vital part of their self improvement. For them, taking time for themselves may mean taking time away from their work so that they don’t get overworked mentally.
Completely transparent entrepreneurs are one step above work on myself entrepreneurs. This is due to the fact that they are comfortable openly acknowledging their shortcomings and mental health issues to seek guidance and help from friends, family, and professionals.
Often, at this stage, you realize that you are not the only one going through the particular struggles that you face. You probably also realize that most people are afraid to talk about what they are going through personally because they feel alone. You know that if you speak up about what you have faced in the past and what you are facing now, more people may feel comfortable talking about what they are facing and seeking help instead of turning inward and hiding.
There are still some things that these types of entrepreneurs are unwilling to speak about. However, for the most part, they realize that it is better to talk about what they are facing than to pretend that it is not happening.
The reason why this is the best stage for an entrepreneur to be at is because you cannot be here from the start. You reach this level through all your experiences and you are ready to help other entrepreneurs reach this level. You realize that the fake it till you make it mentality has more negative consequences than positive.
Speak Openly About Your Mental Health
Over the last few years, we have heavily destigmatized mental health. It is no longer looked down upon to speak out about the issues that you face. In fact, entrepreneurs are now looking to use what they have been through as an example for future entrepreneurs. If you don’t take an interest in your mental health, you will struggle as an entrepreneur. You will isolate yourself from others and your problems will grow. However, if you acknowledge your mental health problems and tackle them head on, you’ll set yourself up to have a better chance at succeeding in your entrepreneurial journey right from the start.