5 Tips for Startup Founders to Build a Mental Health Support System
As an entrepreneur, mentor and accelerator of over 1,000 startups around the world, and currently as VP at Intel and the CEO of the accelerator Intel Ignite, I pay a lot of attention to the importance of mental health and how it affects entrepreneurs. From my extensive experience working with investors and founders of companies, I noticed that mental health is a matter that is often overlooked in the world of startups.
I recently met with an entrepreneur that I mentor, and he mentioned the many mental health challenges he faces. These challenges included pressures from home, pressures with his investors, and even with the startup's employees. It turns out he's not alone.
Intel Ignite recently teamed up with Startup Snapshot to explore the mental health challenges startup founders face. As part of the survey “The Untold Toll: The Impact of Stress on the Well-Being of Founders”, we interviewed over 400 entrepreneurs and discovered some surprising things: 81% of entrepreneurs hide the mental stress they experience, and only 23% of them seek professional help. In addition to that, there is still a great stigma surrounding the issues of mental stress: 90% of entrepreneurs do not feel comfortable discussing their difficulties with investors, mainly because they fear that the same honesty and transparency could endanger their ability to raise investment later.
It is important for me to emphasize how important it is for entrepreneurs to establish a mental support system, and to know when they need to seek help. Here are some tips from my experience that entrepreneurs can do to build such a support network:
Contact friends and colleagues - join or create a community of entrepreneurs, where you can share experiences with others who understand your journey. This will give you the ability to learn from each other, and support each other in the unique challenges you are facing. You can also consider joining a mastermind group where you meet weekly to tackle one member's goal, share input, and hold each other accountable. It's a fantastic way to achieve short-term goals and increase self-confidence.
Proactively build trust with your investors - develop open and honest relationships with your investors so that you feel comfortable talking about any difficulties you encounter. I speak on behalf of many investors – they have seen all kinds of mental health issues of entrepreneurs in their portfolio companies and some of them