Better Together: Checking in on mental health

A bi-weekly column exploring the intersection of entrepreneurship and community by Sam Davidson

When I wrote about mental health and entrepreneurship a few months ago (linked here), the responses garnered were more than expected. The importance of this conversation has been made evident and I’m excited to say that we at the EC are looking for ways to lead it.

Why will we lead it?

In 2024 the EC will focus more on helping entrepreneurs build and maintain deep community. We’ll do this through a variety of ways, but a big one will be hosting and gathering people to do important work together. As friend, entrepreneur, and EC advisor Bill Brennan reminded me: “Most mental health wounds happen in community and require community to heal.”

Beyond that, the data has spoken. As a reminder, here was a recent Pitchbook piece about entrepreneurship and mental health. More locally, Tina Phillips conducted an informal survey on the topic of mental health among Nashville’s entrepreneurs. The results are worth some consideration.

Among her respondents, more than half logged work weeks that exceed 40-hours while also actively managing other people. Leading a team and long work hours can add stressors to even the most adept and experienced entrepreneurs. 

Additionally, the entrepreneurial lifestyle seems to be rife with barriers that impede sound mental health. Poor diet, lack of exercise, mounting pressures – all of this adds up to create poor habits that may not exist in other professions.

Feelings of pressure, stress, anger, isolation, and sleeplessness also abound. Perhaps entrepreneurship should come with a warning label: “Caution: may be hazardous to your mental health.”

Read Tina’s full data set.

For a long time, this was just the way it was. If you were going to be an entrepreneur, you better be ready to grind it out and risk anything and everything. Your family, your money, your reputation, your sanity – lay it all on the altar of entrepreneurship because if you ignore your health long enough you’ll eventually end up with a sizable exit and maybe a magazine cover. 

Let’s bust that myth.

We’ll go first by continuing to push this conversation forward and highlight efforts of those doing the same. In addition to Bill pointing out his observation from years in the trenches and countless entrepreneurs advised, I’ve also come to know Neal Samudre, founder of Entrecare. Leveraging community and technology, he’s building a resource to not just reduce the stigma around entrepreneurship and mental health, but to increase the interaction. Remove the barriers and you’ll up adoption. That’s entrepreneurship 101 for you.

And maybe that’s what it’ll take for entrepreneurs to take their health seriously while still building a valuable company. It’s the community, it’s the conversation, but it’ll also need to be the connection. 

A customer to a service. A cost to a model. A person to a person.

And: mark your calendars. On Thursday, February 8th we’ll be hosting a panel with people and ideas that are moving the mental health conversation forward. Come join us (link to follow). Lunch and community on us.

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