During the long weekend in observance of Independence Day across the United States, one would think that the entrepreneurs running fresh new startups would enjoy the time to relax and not worry about their business. But that’s far from the reality faced by many entrepreneurs. Running a startup is stressful, sometimes more stressful than it really should be. While many of us looked to kick back and enjoy a celebratory weekend, entrepreneurs, on the other hand, were likely stressed out. While they are busy working, doing what they feel they must, others are enjoying some downtime. Ultimately, they feel that that cuts into their own time and efforts. What if they really need to reach out to the point person at a company they are working with but she is spending time at a July Fourth barbeque with her friends or family? It can become stressful for entrepreneurs.
In the world of startups, past all the exciting and positive news on funding rounds, and which startup got acquired by which giant company, there exist a darkside many rarely talk about or even know about. The recent suicide by a talented Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Austen Heinz, has begun to change that.
According to research by University of California, San Francisco clinical professor, Dr. Michael Freeman, an entrepreneur himself as well, depression is the number 1 condition among the 242 entrepreneurs his research surveyed. 49% of those surveyed reported having some sort of mental-health condition. The top condition was depression, found among 30% of those surveyed and it was followed by ADHD (29%) and anxiety problems (27%). The percentage of those reporting depression is much higher than the percentage found among the rest of the population (7%).
This is startling news but not entirely surprising. Entrepreneurs are put under a lot of pressure by others, including investors and the media. Some also put themselves under a lot of pressure, tying their self-worth to how much money they can raise for their company or how their company is performing. In large parts, as Biz Carson reported for Business Insider, the cause of all this pressure that entrepreneurs put themselves under is likely all the ideas behind surrounding the very act of founding a startup. Many people like to claim that a successful entrepreneur does not rest but continues working at all times, or does not take breaks, but that’s unhealthy for both the individual and their business. With more attention being focused on mental health problems, hopefully individuals suffering from them feel more free to open up and receive the support they need.