The mental health crisis in start-ups
According to Dr Paul Hokemeyer, an expert in elite identity constructs: “Given the extraordinary impact entrepreneurs have on our world economy, it’s critically important they operate in a state of optimum emotional and relational health. Unfortunately, in our current zeitgeist of founder burnout as a benchmark of entrepreneurial excellence, such has not been the case.”
A recent study by the University of San Francisco researcher Michael A. Freemanfocused on the mental health crisis that is raging, acknowledged but ineffectively addressed, among the men and women who comprise the entrepreneurial community.
According to this study, approximately one half (49%) 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 has shown that start-up founders are:
- Twice as likely to suffer from depression
- Six times more likely to suffer from ADHD
- Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse
- 10 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
- Twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalisation
- Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts
These findings are actually conservative in the clinical experience of Dr Hokemeyer: “In my clinical practice, I see percentages in the range of 80% of entrepreneurs who struggle with a host of personality disorders such as narcissism, sudden wealth syndrome and the impostor syndrome.
“These conditions erode not just the effectiveness of start-up founders; they also have a negative impact on the endeavours that these highly intelligent human beings have risked their financial, relational, intellectual and emotional capital to pursue.”
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