It's time we talked about the big (massive even) pink elephant in the room called mental health amongst entrepreneurs.
There is the notion that you lead a free and happy life as an entrepreneur. Pictures of laptop lifestyle sipping mojitos at a beach come to mind where being an entrepreneur is glorified. That picture can be true, don't get me wrong, but for a lot of us the reality looks a little bit different. In reality life is filled with constant pressure to be strong, fear, and the reality of failing, financial worries, isolation, and connecting the success of your business to your self-worth. A day in the life of an entrepreneur will have extreme ups and downs like many people can't even imagine.
All of this will wear the best of out, physically and mentally. Not for nothing have we seen a rise of suicides among successful start-ups such as Aaron Swartz and Ilya Zhitomirskiy. According to a study by Dr. Michael Freeman depression is significantly more likely to be present in about 30% of all entrepreneurs followed by ADHD (29%), substance use conditions (12%) and bipolar diagnosis (11%) (see the study here)
I myself suffer from depression and am blessed to have met other entrepreneurs and companies that raise awareness around the topic such as the Blurt Foundation or the English author and artist Hazel Butler.
Hazel has been dealing with Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder for many years and raises awareness of bipolar disorder and mental health through dark fiction and stunning photography. Her first novel, Chasing Azrael, explores suicide, depression, and bipolar disorder, in a manner that is more easily accessible and relatable than medical text books. Hazel has launched a Kickstarter campaign to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, aimed at funding the editing and publication of the second novel, which promises to be even more spectacular than the first. The response to this has been amazing, with the campaign video going viral overnight, gaining over 18,000 views in 24 hours.
Dealing with mental health issues is still seen as a weakness and treated as a taboo. We live in the year 2016 and it really shouldn't be! It's people like Hazel and companies like the Blurt Foundation that work tirelessly to make this topic more accessible.
This week is Mental Awareness Week, so let's take some time out of our busy schedules to support each other and those doing the groundwork!