The intersection of mental health and how we work is something we have covered frequently on this blog. In fact, I am currently writing a book on this topic:

Starting and growing a business is full of ups and downs, which is the part YouTube influencers don’t tell you about. I highly recommend surrounding yourself with supportive colleagues who are also building businesses and are open to conversations about the challenges of entrepreneurship.

In “72% Of Entrepreneurs Suffer From Mental Health Issues. Here’s Why—And What To Do About It,” startup founder and early-stage investor Benjamin Z M Lee writes, “Forbes calls depression an epidemic among entrepreneurs and creatives. Considering how much the game of entrepreneurship is idolized and associated with words like “freedom” and “autonomy,” the emotional side of building companies doesn’t get talked about that often. A more controversial, and letter-known insight, is that entrepreneurs report significantly higher mental health issues than everyday working professionals. According to a study at UC Berkeley, 72% of entrepreneurs in this sample self-reported mental health concerns. Entrepreneurs were significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance use conditions (12%), and bipolar diagnosis (11%).”

This isn’t surprising to me because while there is overall guidance on how to start a business, each business will have unique issues and there is always uncertainty and risk.

In addition, many startups will be funded by the founders, or the founders’ friends and family, which adds the stress of possibly losing your own property or the money of others close to you.

This can make for awkward holidays and family reunions.

Since 2014, I have been open about my occasional challenges and why it’s critical that we normalize having conversations about mental health issues and seeking help. It serves no one – not you or your business or your clients – to be sitting in the black pit of despair or a shame spiral because you need help.

I always joke that help is a four-letter word, but not that kind.

Building a business is HARD. Success is far from guaranteed. Revenue likely won’t grow the way you expect. You will have sleepless nights wondering how you will make payroll or pay vendors while you are waiting for someone to pay you. It’s inevitable.

Find other entrepreneurs who are willing to have open and honest conversations. I urge you to put some safeguards in place and reach out to a trusted colleague or mental health professional when you are not okay.

I did this frequently in January and February of 2022. I was definitely not okay. I wrote about it publicly and started some of my client coaching calls saying this. What was the response? Relief – on all sides. I was relieved to not have to fake it, and many of my clients and colleagues were struggling as well. They were GRATEFUL to not have to put on a mask. They thanked me for being honest, which gave them permission to do the same.

Let’s keep it real, folks. It’s okay to be struggling from time to time. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not have all the answers. And it is definitely okay to take a mental health day (or vacation) if you need it.