6 Reasons Entrepreneurs are Vulnerable to Mental Health Issues

Entrepreneurs are known to possess specific skills that fuel their desires to start, manage, and succeed in a business venture. These traits, however, are also being seen as contributing negatively to their mental health at a given time in their lifetime.

Recent investigations indicate that entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer mental illness. According to Michael Freeman, a psychiatrist, psychologist, and former CEO, entrepreneurs are 50 percent more probable to report having a mental health breakdown, with some particular conditions being more prevalent among founders.

In a recent study, Dr. Freeman observed that up to 72 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed self-reported mental health issues.

The findings from the research indicate that entrepreneurs are:

  • Twice as likely to suffer from depression
  • Six times more likely to suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse
  • 10 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
  • Twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization
  • Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts

Let’s talk about Mental Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is not merely the absence of mental health challenges.

It is the “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Also known as mental well-being (MWB), mental health, which is traditionally studied in medicine, psychology, and public health, is increasingly gaining attention in other disciplines as well.

Scientists, psychologists, economists, management experts among many other experts are taking an interest in the mental health issues of entrepreneurs.

The experts have concluded that mental disorders are not only common but may, in fact, fuel the entrepreneurial spirit.

According to Michael Freeman – executive coach to entrepreneurs and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine…

“Mental health conditions are accompanied by positive traits that enable entrepreneurs to excel.”

Take ADHD, a condition that research suggests is more prominent among entrepreneurial types.

“If you have ADHD, two of the positive traits are a need for speed and an interest in exploration and recognizing opportunities,” he says. “[you have] an ability to act without getting stuck with analysis paralysis.”

Entrepreneurs are recognized as contributing to economic growth, innovation, and job creation across the world. They do so by identifying and addressing the needs in a particular market.

The late Steve Jobs referring to entrepreneurs said, “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”   

In the midst of stiff competition and many challenges, entrepreneurs have to employ strict and strategic measures to remain in business. By so doing, these business-oriented individuals often neglect their wellbeing in a bid to grow their ventures.

Although in the past, entrepreneurs’ mental health has not received much attention, recently, leaders across the world have begun discussing mental health issues to create awareness on the matter.

Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. World leaders including the UK’s Prince William, CEO of HSBC, among others, shed light on mental health problems in a therapeutic and non-stigmatic way.

The mental health crisis in start-ups

With such alarming and scary statistics, the question is: why are entrepreneurs more likely to experience mental health issues?

Speaking from his Nairobi office, director of Consulting and Training at People Centric Management Company, Ken Munyua shared with us insights on the following seven areas that make entrepreneurs more susceptible to mental problems.

1. Fear of failure/uncertainty

“Fear of failure has crippled many people even before trying,” observes Munyua.

Uncertainty and anxiety contribute negatively to our mental well-being. With so much competition, uncertainty is ever a looming phenomenon among entrepreneurs.

Remaining positive and pressing on in the time of our powerlessness should be the ultimate goal for any businessman/woman.

“Get out there and try; if it does not work, use the experience to improve on your next venture, Munyua advises.”

2. Social isolation

Incognizant of how they contribute to mental problems, those close to the entrepreneurs can create a social gap through alienation.

While entrepreneurs are excited about the new venture, often, the society including friends and family fail to offer the needed support.

Choosing to the non-traditional path can bring about social isolation as one focuses all energy and time into succeeding in the business. 

3. Stress

Munyua notes that in the formative stage, in particular, entrepreneurs require more time to start and ensure the business survives.

During this time, many people in business are pressed hard in managing both business and social life.

Over time, the stress leads to sleepless nights, overworking, and lack of appetite or skipping meals due to work and the problems keep spilling over, which can lead to depression if the stress is not addressed well on time.

4. Impression management

One thing that entrepreneurs do well is acting like everything is working even at the edge of failure.

By creating this facade, entrepreneurs do not seek help even when they need it as they do not want to appear weak.

This disconnect between personal experiences, and what they share with the public creates insecurity, and a sense of confusion, further leading to stress, and consequently depression.

5. Inadequate resources to address mental health

Mental health resources in entrepreneurship, as is the case in other fields, receive little or no support.

As organizations and firms come together to fund and support budding as well as existing entrepreneurs, factors such as mental wellbeing of the businessmen and women should be factored into the budget. 

6. Too many expectations

Munyua observes that Carl Rodgers, a renowned psychologist, warns that human beings are disturbed when expectations are not met. “Always hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Munyua adds.

Our mantra should be “expect nothing, and be prepared for anything,” as the saying by the Samurai of ancient Japan goes. We should be open-minded about the eventualities that might come; both positive and negative. 

Munyua calls on entrepreneurs to have a go-to person (s) who is ready to support and invest in your well-being.

Moreover, establish a routine that allows you time off business or any other work-related duties. Use this time to rest and rejuvenate physically, spiritually, and mentally. 


This month of October, our theme is Girl Talk. We’re touching all topics relating to your personal life, mental health and so much more. Got something to discuss with us? Send us a DM to ASK SLA here.

6 ways to tone down your stress levels

It is not uncommon to see someone you know, perhaps your friend, a family member, or a colleague whose demeanor is looking unusual, and you show concern by asking the question: ‘why is your appearance looking so dull today?’  and their reply goes ‘it is stress’. Recently, I attended a meetup where young women discussed ‘creating balance’. In the heat of the discussion, one woman mentioned that she was on an official assignment to a psychiatric ward and found that the leading cause of psychosis in women admitted was stress. I was both alarmed and pained. The term stress seems to be something everyone takes for granted but its effect on our physical, emotional and mental well-being is often disastrous. More women than men are prone to stress partly because besides the everyday hustle to support the family income is the added responsibility of taking care of the home front. Many studies have confirmed that stress could lead to deli-bating diseases like high blood pressure (which is constantly on the rise in recent times), heart attack, nervous breakdown, and many others. Hence, there is an urgent need for us to take the matter of stress very seriously. On the scale of 1 - 10, how high is your stress levels? @awunliwomanup highlight 6 ways to manage stress. Read more... Click To Tweet Stress cannot be eliminated completely, however, here are six ways to manage it.

KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE WORK BEHIND

Some women are naturally workaholics, while others are in the hustle just to outdo their contemporaries in terms of material acquisition. Whichever end of the divide you find yourself, be kind to your health and long term well being, you have to know when to stop.

LEARN HOW TO RELAX

Some people know when to unwind after a hard days job while some people see it as unnecessary. For example, I have a friend who stays glued to his laptop watching one series or the other after work and I get so angry until he explained that it was one of the ways he cools off after a hard days job. Whatever works for you, make sure you go for it.

STRIVE FOR BALANCE

It has been emphasized more often than not that being busy does not translate into being productive. To increase your productivity, prioritize your activities and determine when you have reached your limit.

ASK FOR HELP

This is especially for those who have the perfectionist syndrome. They believe no one can do it the way they can. Sister, if anything happens to you, there will be someone else who will do the job better than you, so put your health first. Leave those things you can delegate to someone else at work, outsource some tasks if you can afford it, and ask family members and friends to help out as a way of reducing your workload.

PLAN AND PREPARE AHEAD

We all know how what last-minute tension feels like. you begin to sweat profusely, you get jittery all over. To avoid this kind of scenario, do things well ahead of time.

LET GO OF WORRY

I have a friend who says worry is her recipe for losing weight. Worrying over an issue does not get the problem solved. Worry and anxiety tend to the release of stress hormones in your body. Rather than worry, pray, believe and take the steps you need to solve the problem.
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Stress what??? Here are 4 ways to practice Self-Care

“Wake up, hustle and grind. The hustle never stops. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

Few words make me tremble like the ones above. Back when I was a Bachelors’ student in university, I had colleagues who spoke that way. Every time I hear such words, I would panic.

Surely, if others were ready to put off sleep until when they died, I didn’t want it bad enough. I definitely was not willing or able to sacrifice my sleep for my academic success? This was bad.

Fast forward four years later, and I am thinking about these words, as I write this article on self-care.

What comes to mind is this:

  1. Self-care should come before anything else.
  2. How can one produce the best of themselves, if they are tired, both emotionally and physically

The world around us seems to frown upon downtime. We need to go and go fast, in everything we do. It is our duty, however, not to forget our health and well-being.

Here are a few ways to do so.

Sleep

Sleep is not laziness. It is one of the most important and basic acts to take care of one’s self. Any attempt to simply dismiss sleep as laziness feels like a statement that seems to say, I am putting well-being second and success (whatever that may be) first.

Society hasn’t always taught us how to take care of ourselves, but you gotta start now! 

Accept your emotions

Back in 2015, during one of the heights of my frustrations and social anxiety, I started practicing yoga. Yoga with Adrienne, on YouTube, to be precise.

If I learned anything, it is this: Let yourself be. What we often do, when we are sad, overwhelmed, tired, angry, is judge ourselves about feeling a certain way, thus adding an extra layer of discomfort and unhappiness without even realizing it. Self-care is letting yourself be.  

Self-care is being gentle with yourself, feeling an emotion, and not judging yourself for feeling a certain way.

In a Supersoul Conversation with Oprah, Caroline Myss, American writer, added that a critical step to finding a purpose was letting go of the judgment we hold of our lives.

Do what you need to do to preserve your peace

While Instagram and social media are highly criticized in general, it has some amazing uses, one of which is finding your self-care/uplifting girl gang! That’s how I discovered Alex Elle.

Through her “Hey, girl!” podcast and Instagram posts, author and storyteller, Alex Elle encourages us to take care of ourselves first.

On several occasions, I felt like she was talking directly to me, giving me a piece of advice I needed to conquer the day. This week the message was this one:

Loving yourself fully may require loving people from a distance - Alex Elle Click To Tweet

Do what is necessary to take care of yourself first. Throughout her exchanges with us, Alex asks an important question: What does self-care look like to you? What does it look like to YOU?

Be full of yourself – its okay!

Yes, my beautiful ladies, Oprah reminds us that it’s not a bad thing to be full of yourself! She says “I’m full, I’m flowing, my cup runneth over” with love, for herself.

It is important here to note that loving yourself is a self-care ritual that doesn’t happen overnight. It is also one of the hardest and worthiest of causes. If not the worthiest.

Self-care can also be, learning to love yourself every single day, flaws and all, and forgiving yourself when things don’t go according to “plan”.

What does self-care look like to you? Asking for help? Taking a bath? Sleep? Super Soul Conversations? Therapy? Blogging?

For me, it is a combination of many things, one of which is therapy, as I maneuver around being a socially anxious black girl.

Bisous xx


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Holding on to your business, your day job and your sanity

your business your day job and your sanity

Itching to be an entrepreneur but not ready to give up your day job?

Lots of people begin their businesses as a side hustle. It definitely makes sense. When you first start your venture might not be the time to leave your full time job. Or you are still learning from and enjoying your day job. And let’s be honest, it pays the bills and entrepreneurship is a huge risk.

Whatever your reason may be for doing it, juggling your day job and a business is hard. But it’s not impossible. This guide will teach you the essentials you need to hold on to both AND keep your sanity.

Topics this guide will cover:

  • Deciding if this is the right choice for you
  • How to stay accountable to yourself and your new business
  • How to not burn out
  • Staying motivated through rough times

Don’t let this be you:

your business your day job and your sanity

Complete with worksheets and lots of ideas for helping you manage your time and energy, this guide is a can’t miss for anyone trying to juggle it all.


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Less stress, more VIM: 5 daily activities for a healthier life

Studies show that African women are the most enterprising and hardworking people on the planet. While we fully embrace this title as Motherland Moguls, we know this work takes its toll. While some pressure can increase productivity, sustained emotional and mental strain causes stress, which distracts us and makes us sick.

It’s time for professional African women to take self-care seriously! These five activities are time tested to keep the blues and pain away.

It’s time for professional African women to take self-care seriously.

1. SweatAunt Vivian - Fresh Prince of Bel Air

There’s more to working out than getting a ‘bikini bod’. Exercise has been proven to stimulate the release of endorphins —that good stuff that makes you happy. Some people find long-distance running cathartic while others feel empowered with strength training.

From kickboxing, to dancing, to tennis, physical activity is a great way to release tension and increase self-confidence. No wonder Queen B. is always happy!

2. Set GoalsKermit typewriter

Goal setting  is a proven way to reduce stress. Spend ten minutes reflecting and writing your goals each day. When you know where you are going, you are less likely to stress the small.

Think about your goals – short and long-term. Evaluate your actions towards your goals and celebrate small and big wins often!

3. Control your thoughts and perspectiveShakira Meditation

Meditation is a great way to train the brain. Many people falsely believe that meditation means sitting still. Any activity that allows you slow down and take stock of  life, events, and people is meditative.

Try this five minute meditation technique called The Heart of the Rose; it will also increase your concentration.

4. SmileVeronica Bozeman

You know those annoyingly positive people who say “Turn that frown upside down” when you are upset? Well, sorry to break it you, but it turns out they are actually on to something.

According to studies, smiling reduces stress levels. When we get stressed our hearts beat faster; simply can reduce heart rate and calm us down.

5. Be your own cheerleaderGabrille Union - Bring It On

The journey to lead the pack is tough. At times, there will be no one to cheer you on. But do not lose hope or give up.   Knowing the power of a hopeful spirit, we share a positive mantra with you each morning.

You can also create your own. Remember, to keep your mantra truth; that you are strong, resilient, and powerful.

So Motherland Moguls, which of these activities do you already do and how do they help? Which acts of self-care do you want to implement this new year?