Entrepreneurs are seen by many as the heroes of our time. They create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, commit to their ideas against all odds and are transforming industry after industry.
Popular culture often depicts them as almost perfect visionaries, with very little space for vulnerability.
Few entrepreneurs have openly spoken about mental health issues. Ryan Holmes, Founder & CEO of Hootsuite is one of the few. He wrote about the strategies he used to battle his imposter syndrome, which became clear to him when he received an honorary doctorate from a prestigious university.
The mental health statistics for entrepreneurs are shocking. Research suggests that 72% of entrepreneurs report mental health concerns, with founders being 30% more likely to experience depression than a member of the general public.
Often, entrepreneurs find that there are few people they can openly speak to about mental health issues, while at the same time being subjected to the pressure of having to lead their teams and deliver results for shareholders.
Tania Diggory, the founder of Calmer, a London-based community of entrepreneurs, is committed to change that.
On World Mental Health Day she launches Calmer’s Reignitecampaign, with a focus on helping 600,000 entrepreneurs prevent burnout across the world until 2023
She says that over 3.4 million entrepreneurs are facing burnout in the UK alone and has based her programme on her own entrepreneurial experience and her previous struggle with anxiety and depression.
“When I started my second business, an international events company, I realised that I hadn’t really mentally prepared myself for it. I was working way too many hours, I wasn’t looking after my wellbeing and ended up burning out. That’s where depression and anxiety kicked in”
According to Diggory, Reignite is the answer to these issues: “It’s about helping entrepreneurs reduce the issues of stress and burnout and show them which strategies they can use to increase their wellbeing and empower them to live a fulfilled life”.
Diggory has been working with entrepreneurs since 2016, hosting workshops and one-to-one sessions that give founders tangible tools to combat mental health issues.
All tools are backed by evidence-based research and the goal is to create a support system where entrepreneurs feel comfortable being vulnerable and sharing the most difficult aspects of starting and scaling a company.
Recently, Calmer has launched a digital training platform, which allows entrepreneurs to learn about strategies to deal with mental health issues virtually, making it easier to fit into their busy schedules.
Diggory says that the reality of the entrepreneurial journey is often that founders try to avoid confronting mental health issues: “The more we resist unhelpful feelings, the more they manifest, so it is important to address them as soon as you notice them.”.
She encourages founders to create a culture of openness about mental health in their teams: “Have a level of honesty and openness with your team. Set a precedence for everybody and encourage the team to support one another”.