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Importance of Mental Health for Women Entrepreneurs

by Bani Banerjee
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Importance of Mental Health for Women Entrepreneurs | Womopreneur

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. – Aristotle Onassis”

The life of an entrepreneur is not easy. While all the power-packed daily routine looks glamorous from the outside, the real struggle is known to the one living it. It turns crueler when women’s entrepreneurship is in question. It takes a lot of courage and willpower to sail in two different boats of life for women entrepreneurs i.e., personal and professional.

What is the struggle, you ask? The struggle or rather the downside of being a woman entrepreneur is that your mental peace goes for a toss amidst the chaos of professional tussle with personal well-being.

What is Mental Health?

According to World Health Organization, “Mental health is the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of individuals. It is more than the absence of a mental disorder; it is the ability to think, learn, and understand one’s emotions and the reactions of others. Mental health is a state of balance, both within and with the environment. Physical, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual and other interrelated factors participate in producing this balance.

Mental Health Crisis

A recent study by Michael A. Freeman, Researcher, University of San Francisco focused on the mental health crisis among the men and women who comprise the entrepreneurial community.

According to this study, approximately 50 percent of entrepreneurs suffer from at least one form of mental health condition during their lifetimes. These include ADHD, bipolar disorder, and a host of addictive disorders.

Freeman’s research picked the following data about start-up founders:

  • 2X more likely to suffer from depression
  • 6X more likely to suffer from ADHD
  • 3X more likely to suffer from substance abuse
  • 10X more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
  • 2X more likely to have psychiatric hospitalization
  • 2X more likely to have suicidal thoughts

Is It Common to Have a Mental Illness?

According to statistics from the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

  • Anxiety – which involves feelings of unease, worry, and fear – will affect 5% of the population at any one time
  • Bipolar disorder – which causes people to have manic and depressive episodes – will affect one in every 100 people
  • Depression – About 20% of people will become depressed at some point in their lives
  • Anorexia – One in every 150 15-year-old girls will get anorexia, and one in every 1,000 15-year-old boys
  • Schizophrenia – which can cause people to have hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia – affects about one person in 100 people.

Factors Affecting Mental Health of Women Entrepreneurs

  1. Economic Factors: Money plays a major role in hurting an individual’s emotional well-being, self-esteem, and more broadly the mental health. Being a woman entrepreneur, you have to be very cautious while walking down this street. As per a report by the Guardian – startups founded by men are 86% more likely to receive venture capital investments than women-led startup ventures. While this will take time to change, we suggest that women entrepreneurs should not pay attention to these and continue with enthusiasm. Every failure leads you closer to what you know best.
  2. Lack of Family Support: It is expected that a woman will understand that she is supposed to look after the family first. Sometimes this leads to limited education or limited access to greater achievements or sometimes it could be caring less about her ambitions and dreams. In the fight to keep her family and friends happy, a woman often overlooks her dreams. However, much she is content to see the happy faces around her, this feeling of unfulfilled dreams leads to a lonely and depressed mind.
  3. Gender Favouritism: Women entrepreneurship is not limited to other candidates fighting for the same goal but it is concentrated more upon the gender differences. It is seen that when it comes to entrepreneurship, there has always been some or the other kind of favoritism towards men. For instance, parental businesses are often kept separate for the sons to lead. As per a report by CNBC, “the average size loan for women-owned businesses was 31 percent less than for male-owned businesses.” Still not convinced?

According to a PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United State of America), ‘when pitching business plans to a panel of angel investors, attractive male entrepreneurs were 60% more likely to achieve success than their female counterparts.’

That does make sense why depression takes place!

Take The Test – Early Signs of Women Entrepreneurs Facing Mental Health Issues

Do you want to test your friend or yourself if you are living with mental health problems? Take a note if you are experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors. These can be dangerous in the long run and must be taken care of.

  • Change in eating habits. Weight fluctuations
  • Sleep pattern – increased or decreased hours
  • Feeling tired or low on energy (almost all the time)
  • Decreased interest in life events
  • Pulling away from friends, family, and colleagues
  • Frequent headaches, stomachaches, chronic pain, and high blood pressure
  • Feeling hopeless about everything around
  • Increased urge to smoke and drink
  • Increased emotions – anger, fear, tension, forgetfulness, confusion, upset, irritation, guilt, etc.
  • Severe mood swings leading to fights with loved ones
  • Overthinking and revengeful thoughts
  • Thinking of harming self

Mobile Ways for Prevention and Wellness for Women Entrepreneurs

Get medical help if the condition is severe. However, if you lack the time or resources or just want to treat it on your own with some additional help, take a look at these mobile apps curated for your mental health needs.

  1. MY3: A free app that can be customized with a safety plan when the user feels suicidal.
  2. Mood Kit: MoodKit uses the foundation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and provides users with over 200 different mood improvement activities.
  3. Quit That! – A completely free habit tracker app to help users beat their habits or addictions – stop drinking alcohol, quit smoking, or stop taking drugs.
  4. Mind Shift: One of the best free mental health apps designed specifically for anxiety. It stresses the importance of changing how you think about anxiety rather than trying to avoid anxious feelings
  1. Happify: Get a free happy fix with the psychologist-approved mood-training program with the Happify app.
  2. Calm: Named by Apple as the 2017 iPhone App of the Year, Calm is quickly becoming regarded as one of the best mental health apps available. Calm provides people experiencing stress and anxiety with guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music.
  3. Headspace: Meditation made simple with this skillful app. Just a few minutes a day can give you a relaxed mind.
  4. Schizophrenia Health Storylines: This free app is developed in partnership with the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA). It is a very helpful app to monitor the condition by keeping track of symptoms, medication, and moods of schizophrenic patients.

Quick Ways to Maintain Positive Mental Health

If you are not tech-savvy, we recommend that you always remember these:

  • Always stay positive. Anger or fear of loss act as a catalyst in corrupting your mental health.
  • Plan ahead. If not plan A then plan B. Something always works out.
  • Do not lose hope. There is no dearth of good opportunities.
  • Live an active life. Include physical activities.
  • Do not pay heed to every talk in town.
  • Help others. It feels right. It feels good.
  • Sleep it off!

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