Entrepreneur Mental Health

Much of our culture places entrepreneurs on a pedestal. With so many success stories published in books, magazines, and news articles, it can be easy to assume what an entrepreneur’s life must be like. However, many people who start their own companies or work at startups have difficulty with their mental health.

What is entrepreneur mental health?

Entrepreneur mental health describes the unique set of mental health challenges that often occur when starting your own business or being an early member at a growing company. There are many nuances that make an entrepreneur’s work week different from the typical work week. Entrepreneurs may be the only person working at their company, or one of very few. They generally assume a high amount of responsibility, specifically financial responsibility – if their business fails, they may lose the personal assets they used to start the company. Burnout is common, as the work never ends.

Because of these conditions, many entrepreneurs face mental health challenges. It’s important for these individuals to seek the help of a mental health professional who can help them not only feel more emotionally and physically comfortable throughout the week, but also feel a greater sense of fulfillment in what they’re doing.

Symptoms of entrepreneur mental health challenges

While all entrepreneurs are different – and their companies, business models, team sizes, and resources also differ – there are many symptoms of entrepreneur mental health challenges that are common. These include:

  • Feeling lonely, especially when working by themselves
  • Feeling the high pressure to succeed - this could be a financial pressure or societal pressure to present a certain way
  • Feeling anxious or obsessed with control over each element of the company
  • Staying up late or working over hours to get the company ahead
  • Having insomnia because of worry, anxiety, or anticipation
  • Feeling the pressure of “making your dream a reality”
  • Dealing with the impacts of perfectionism
  • Getting frequent headaches, stomachaches, or body aches

Sometimes while running a company, it’s appropriate to feel anxious, concerned, or nervous (think about how you would feel right before a pitch to investors!). However, when your negative emotions become overwhelming, when they don’t go away when you aren’t working, or when they start to impact the relationships you have with others, it may be time to see a therapist.

Therapy for entrepreneur mental health

Most therapists offer their clients education around relaxation techniques or coping skills. Therapists who specialize in entrepreneur mental health, however, understand the unique situations that entrepreneurs face – and they aren’t likely to simply recommend taking a night off. Therapists that work with entrepreneurs know the pressures of starting or running a company. They have the vocabulary to talk about the different stages of entrepreneurship and create nonjudgmental spaces for clients to begin their healing.

Many therapists who specialize in entrepreneur mental health treat their clients for burnout by helping them develop ways to feel socially connected to others and to discover meaning in their work again. They may help their clients build their coping skills and also give them different perspectives to view their challenges. There are many excellent resources out there for entrepreneurs, and therapy is one of them. Therapy will help keep the entrepreneur – and the business – running smoothly.