On Monday 10th October 2022, the world celebrated World Mental Health day which according to Wikipedia was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the overall objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
In Uganda, it was estimated that 14 million Ugandans suffer from a mental disorder in a 2022 report.
What are mental disorders?
Mental disorders (or mental illnesses) are conditions that affect your thinking, feeling, mood, and behavior. –MedlinePlus
Medline Plus lists some examples of mental disorders including anxiety disorders, Depression (bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders), Eating disorders, Personality disorders, Post-traumatic stress disorder and Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
Entrepreneurs use their mental, cognitive and emotional behaviour to function not just in business but also in their lives. They are susceptible to mental disorders because of the nature of their work. When you are the founder of a startup, it is quite hectic to plan, strategize and grow it. And this is often done at the expense of one`s well-being.
Below we share four reasons (not limited to) that make entrepreneurs vulnerable to mental disorders:
The Fear of failure
Uncertainty has a crippling effect on people thus contributing negatively to one`s mental well-being. People have a desire to succeed and when they fail, they are distressed and might get into depressive/anxiety episodes.
Lack of Social Support
Support from family and friends and society at large is important but most entrepreneurs might not get in from the start which can be frustrating. This contributes to mental issues due to working in isolation as many did during the lockdown caused by COVID-19.
According to WHO, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health, fueling short- and long-term stresses and undermining the mental health of millions. Estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services have been severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened.’’
In the formative stages of any startup, the demand on the entrepreneur is high and often brutal. People have to work overtime, skip meals, sleep less, and endure no pay and their social life takes a dive which leads some to use drugs and narcotics just to manage the pressure. This could lead to the manifestation of many forms of mental disorders. The stress levels are usually high because the business has to survive against all odds.
Lack of information and inadequate resources to address mental health
In Uganda alone, mental disorders are believed to stem from witchcraft, curses and punishment from the gods. People do not have adequate information to address the matter. Those with adequate resources also receive little or no support. Mental health currently takes up 1% of the total budget allocated to the Ministry of Health in Uganda.
The above issues and more make entrepreneurs vulnerable to mental disorders. Therefore it is important to find a balance in the entrepreneurship journey. Work hard but also mind your mental well-being. In the next blog, we share tips on how to keep your mental health in check.