Food Entrepreneur - March 2, 2021 - 3

FOOD ENTREPRENEUR®
COMMENTARY

We need to talk about mental health
Entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety,
mood disorders and substance abuse
BY MONICA WATROUS

A

staggering 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or
indirectly affected by mental health issues compared to (a still high) 48% of non-entrepreneurs,
according to University of California researchers.
The study revealed founders are twice as likely to suffer from depression, three times more likely to struggle
with substance abuse, and 10 times more likely to have
bipolar disorder than the general population. Some of
the very traits often celebrated in innovators - creative,
motivated, risk-taking - are linked to characteristics of
depression, anxiety, mood disorders and substance abuse.
Add to that the emotional and financial burden
of launching a business and the numerous inevitable
setbacks and rejections founders encounter along the
way, plus an all-consuming grind that leaves little time for
self-care and supportive relationships.
" Being an entrepreneur is absolutely an emotional
rollercoaster, " said Kelsey Moreira, founder of readyto-eat cookie dough brand Doughp, based in Las Vegas.
" The highs are so high, but the lows can be so low. You
become intimately tied to the business; the ebb and flow
of sales during slow times can cause physical nausea at
times. "
Ms. Moreira's addiction recovery story is intertwined
with her business. She launched the company as a platform to address the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness and addiction. Through the #Doughp4Hope
initiative, the company has donated more than $20,000
in proceeds from sales to provide mental health care to
those in need. On social media, the brand shares " unfiltered conversation " and weekly Mental Health Monday
posts to shine a brighter light on the topic.
" For me, running a business channels my energy into
something positive, " she said. " With #Doughp4Hope, I
built a business that gives back, and that's been good for
the mental health community and my own mental health.
I keep customer emails to re-read when I have a hard
day; they serve as a
reminder of why I'm
doing what I'm doing,
real lives that I've impacted positively as a
result of Doughp. "
Entrepreneurs
face enormous
internal and external
pressure to succeed.
Business failures
may often translate
to personal failures.
Monica Watrous is the managing
And an already lonely
editor of Food Business News.
journey for solo
Email mwatrous@sosland.com.
March 2, 2021

029_FBN_March2_21.indd 29

Mental health
is critical
for decision
making, productivity and
leadership.
So, why does
it still feel so
taboo to talk
about it?
©TADAMICHI - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

founders has been made more isolating by the pandemic.
" I fully believe entrepreneurs are more vulnerable to
mental health issues, " said Erica Rankin, founder of Bro
Dough, Ottawa, Ont. " Me, personally, I run a company by
myself and am not really surrounded by a lot of people
who are also entrepreneurs where I live. My inner circle,
my friends and family, they're not entrepreneurs. "
Over the past year, Ms. Rankin has built a virtual
support system on LinkedIn of fellow consumer packaged
goods entrepreneurs who share similar struggles and
experiences.
" This platform was able to provide me with a support
system I so desperately needed, " Ms. Rankin said. " I can't
express the importance of having a solid support system
in place. I went eight months into my business without
having this, and it was really hard for me. There were
some days that I didn't even want to get out of bed. "
Mental health is critical for decision making, productivity, leadership and workplace culture. So, why does it
still feel so taboo to talk about it?
More voices are needed on the topic of mental health
issues, particularly among the startup community. Public
struggles in other sectors, including the recent death of
Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, amplify the urgent need for
honest and compassionate dialogue.
" It's so important that we become more open and
transparent about founder mental health, " Ms. Moreira said. " There has to be a louder conversation around
mental health that specifically considers the lifestyle and
requirements of being an entrepreneur. "
Help is available for those who are struggling. Text
" HELLO " to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line, or call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Find more resources at the National Institute of Mental
Health website at nimh.nih.gov. ▪
Food Business News

29

2/26/2021 10:04:18 AM


http://nimh.nih.gov

Food Entrepreneur - March 2, 2021

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