Mental Health and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship has its ups and downs. For every peak, there seems to be a valley waiting right around the corner – and vice versa. While a lot of the discussion surrounding entrepreneurship focuses on ambition, creativity and the sense of fulfillment people get when they build something out of nothing, the reality is that entrepreneurs often feel lonely, stressed out, anxious, burnt out and empty.

Entrepreneurs are assumed to be super strong. The success stories have created an image of a ‘superhuman’ who is always motivated, witty, tireless, emotionally strong and unaffected by any hardships. This image of an ideal leader has unconsciously created an ecosystem where entrepreneurs don’t allow themselves to maintain their mental health. They fight against their own mind and often find it difficult to accept that they are under stress, let alone ask for help.

Research says that 49 percent of entrepreneurs today are dealing with at least one mental illness (such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, addiction, depression or anxiety) and roughly one-third of entrepreneurs’ struggle with two or more mental illnesses. If such mental health issues go unaddressed, they can have debilitating side effects — some of which may even be detrimental to business. Certain issues can have negative effects on decision-making and confidence, which can also diminish an entrepreneur’s effectiveness as a leader.

The current GDP growth rate is around 7% which we, as a nation aspire to take up to 10% in the next two to three years. This jump can only be made possible by heavily promoting entrepreneurship. However, despite having the world’s third largest startup ecosystem in the world, India still lacks an education system that actively promotes entrepreneurship and risk adaptive behavior amongst the youth. This, coupled with an absence of women entrepreneurs, and a not-so-readily available entrepreneurial workforce are just some of the things that are holding us back from becoming the nation of our dreams.

The unrealistic expectations and a lack of conversations on such issues collectively does not allow leaders to step up and accept what they are going through. It is truly said that entrepreneurship comes with a psychological price and the ‘taboo’ that ‘leaders are always strong’ needs to be shattered. 

We all are leaders and human beings, undoubtedly a leader or any entrepreneur needs to master a lot of attributes like patience, focus, determination and perseverance – but not at the cost of his mental peace. It’s common to hear stories of struggle about actors, artists or cricketers. However, more often than not, the struggles of a business leader are assumed to be a problem with him, and they end up being tagged as ‘weak’ and ‘incapable’ to run an organization. This kind of mindset also gives birth to discrimination on the basis of gender and age at organizations, businesses and companies.

Few suggested solutions to the warriors out there are – try and take out time for self-work (at least twice a day), self work might include working out, meditating, cycling, reading self help books or may be just sitting idle and doing absolutely nothing. Learn to spend some times with your loved ones, the journey of entrepreneurship is usually a solo journey with uncertainty and a lot of bumps, so do not forget to be with your supporters. Additionally, it is extremely important to make this dialogue stronger and the conversations heard. The only way to make a change is to know the stories, the struggles and the hustle.

Author: Srishti SharmaSrishti Sharma is a youth icon and a motivational speaker. She is the co-founder of ‘Human Science’, worlds first technically approached; experts based organization devoted to permanently eliminate stress and negative tendencies from all social establishments. For her work and achievements as a young leader and change-maker, Srishti has been conferred with several awards, including the ‘Indian Icon Leadership Award’, ‘Young Achiever of the Year’ and ‘Exemplary Performer of the Year’, among others.

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