Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

On 11 August at 10:30 am, I ‘ll deliver a free mini-workshop: Mental Health for Entrepreneurs.

This topic hasn ‘t received much attention, despite the fact that its two constituent parts mental health and entrepreneurship certainly have.

The Blurb

A quarter of small business owners fall mentally ill due to burnout. Half of all entrepreneurs deal with at least one mental illness.

This workshop will explain why and examine practical strategies to ease and energise the business brain.

The first of these stats was covered in a Guardian article towards the end of last year, with the headline that business owners struggle to ease work-life imbalance. This is hardly breaking news! But the article did point to some serious research conducted in the same year by Simply Business which showed, among other things, that a quarter of the business owners surveyed have fallen ill due to stress and overwork.

Part of the problem rests with certain aspects of entrepreneurial culture, especially the ‘sleep faster’ startup culture, the pressure to succeed, and the notion that business failure is equivalent to personal failure. This often leads to self-worth issues, anxiety, and devastating depression. So there is plenty of evidence to suggest a connection between entrepreneurship and mental health conditions, and even that entrepreneurship itself can become addictive!

As well as taking a look at some of these statistics and symptoms, my workshop will explore what lies behind them, which is, an entrepreneurial mindset that brings with it great dangers as well as advantages. The main thrust of my workshop will be to suggest ways to transform the dark work-ethic of entrepreneurship into a play-ethic that protects mental health and promotes business success at the same time.

Why Am I Talking About Mental Health for Entrepreneurs?

My qualifications for speaking on this topic are professional and personal. I ‘ve lead courses in Positive Psychology at local universities and taught young people in our schools as a trainer for Aware. I ‘ve started and run my own business for almost a decade. I’ve had a long interest in the relationship between mental health and creativity. And I ‘ve experienced debilitating mental ill health first hand.

Venue and Booking

The location will be The Foundry, a coworking space established by East Belfast Enterprise, built with start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses in mind.

The session will last for 1.5 hours, including introductions and Q&A.

To book your place, contact Patrick at East Belfast Enterprise on 028 9094 2010.

This workshop will enable entrepreneurs and business owners to start a conversation about their mental health. I look forward to meeting you there.

Further Reading

I ‘m glad that research into this field is rising, with PhD opportunities now available for study into Understanding and Enhancing the Health and Wellbeing of Entrepreneurs .

Also, a number of websites and projects have recently arisen that are dedicated to mental health for entrepreneurs. Here a selection of them.

  • Business in Mind is a workplace mental health promotion program designed for small to medium enterprise owner/managers.
  • Entrepreneur Depression is a website with stories, self-care exercises and resources designed to help entrepreneur with depression.
  • The purpose of The Mindset Project is to get more entrepreneurial in supporting founder wellness.

Resilience

Since working with Aware Defeat Depression on the Mood Matters programme, I’ve been looking for another opportunity to get involved with a mental health organisation. Recently an opportunity arose for a Sessional Trainer with CAUSE. I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be working with CAUSE on two of their programmes.

Resilience for Carers

This one day course examines our ability to bounce back from setbacks and the impact that resilience and emotional intelligence can have on your role as a carer. Using real life examples, it helps us realise the skills we are currently using and motivates us to build on those to support our caring role.

Carers Course PREP

“The CAUSE Carers course consists of six short lively modular workshops with interactive discussions, guest speakers and information on the fundamentals you need as a carer of someone with a serious mental illness.”

Read more about training for carers at CAUSE.

Resilience Authors

The one of particular interest to me is the Resilience topic, since Sensei already delivers the topic to organisations across Ireland. For me, resilience is best defined using some of the most inspiring thinkers I’ve read:

  • Langer, On Becoming An Artist in which she talks about enjoying the now, without stressing about the outcome
  • Langer, Counterclockwise in which she talks about our society’s distasteful tendency to discard the old and remove all choice from their lives, and shows a better way that alleviates (and sometimes heals) the natural ageing process and fosters happiness at all stages in life
  • Goleman, Emotional Intelligence in which he posits EI as the source of success, contentment and progress in life, relationships, communication and work
  • Seligman, Learned Optimism in which he argues for a conscious route to a more productive, creative life through the discipline of optimistic approach to life

If you’d like to arrange a Resilience workshop for your workplace, contact us.

Did Positive Thinking Cause the Recession?

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A few weekends ago I happened across an article called Positive thinking is positively bad for you so always look on the glum slide of life by Virginia Ironside. In it she gave a positive review for a book entitled Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. The author is Barbara Ehrenreich, an American journalist, socialist and political activist. Continue reading “Did Positive Thinking Cause the Recession?”

A Positively Brilliant Workshop

On Saturday 6th December I delivered a 1-day workshop at Queen’s University called The Psychology of Happiness: How to Grow Your Happy Skills. Its purpose was to introduce the students to the new positive psychology movement, and to the thoughts of Martin Seligman and Mih√°ly Cs√≠kszentmih√°lyi in particular. Those who read the blog will know that I’ve reviewed Seligman’s latest work Authentic Happiness before, and I’ve also captured the two of them in a fascinating conversation.

In the workshop I did four things. First, I discussed Seligman’s analysis of the three types of happy life: the Pleasant Life, the Good Life, and the Meaningful Life. Then I explored the whole notion of optimism, perhaps Seligman’s main contribution to the field of academic psychology. After lunch, it was time to check out our signature strengths. Finally, we applied all this to the area of work, that most usual and difficult source of unhappiness. Continue reading “A Positively Brilliant Workshop”

Authentic Happiness

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Happiness is a New York Times best seller and already destined to become a classic of ‘self-help with substance’.

I’ve already blogged about Seligman (see The Sultans of Happiness). He’s a former President of the American Psychological Association, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and founder of the Positive Psychology movement. Before him, psychology was viewed in terms of diagnosing what was wrong with people. Now, there is a complementary emphasis Continue reading “Authentic Happiness”