When thinking about an entrepreneur, what traits do you think of? Headstrong, confident, inspiring, among others. It is easy to put successful entrepreneurs up on a pedestal, but there is another side to every story. The pressure of success can take a serious toll on an individual’s mental health. It does not take long to think of a list of successful individuals who have suffered with some form of mental illness: Jim Carey, J.K. Rowling, Ted Turner, Mark Twain, just to name a few. The CEO of Wildfang, Emma McIlroy, says, “It would be so much easier for me to stand up and not be vulnerable—to just say, ‘It’s all great. I’m a big deal CEO,’” she says. “But that doesn’t help the people coming behind you who are going through the same difficulties or those who want to become entrepreneurs.” CEOs are a role model for their employees and can perpetuate healthy conversations about mental health by setting the example.
Dr Michael Freeman, a psychiatrist from University of California San Francisco who specializes in mental health issues in business, investigated the prevalence and characteristics of mental health conditions in entrepreneurs. Of the 242 entrepreneurs that were surveyed, 49% reported having one or more lifetime mental health condition. The same traits that can catapult your business to success can be the same ones that cause you to stumble back to the bottom. Just like your business, you are the only one who can make executive decisions on how to handle your mental health.
“Don’t let your business squeeze out your connections with human beings,” says Dr Freeman. Personal relationships can be very powerful when it comes to battling depression. Being around those who make you feel comfortable being emotionally vulnerable can help ease some of the daily pressure. If it ever becomes too much to handle, always seek help from a professional. As much as we would all like to have a specialist like Dr Freeman on call, there are many other business psychology experts across the nation. Personal self worth is not directly synonymous with an individual’s net worth.
After having your hands in all aspects of your business day in and day out, it is only reasonable to need some time to recharge mentally. There will always be pressure to take your business to the next level, the stress from personnel management, and the financial strain that comes along in the early stages of running a business. Taking control of your mental health could be the missing link when it comes to proper ways to handle the stress that comes with running a business. You may be surprised by how successful you can be when in the right frame of mind and be able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment.