If you do some research on World Mental Health Day, you’re going to find a lot of statistics and facts about the prevalence of mental illness in our society and why it’s a growing problem that won’t go away on its own. That’s what World Mental Health Day is about – bringing the topic of mental health and mental illness into the spotlight for some much-needed discussion.
Why World Mental Health Day is Important for Entrepreneurs
That topic is particularly important for entrepreneurs, who have been found to exhibit symptoms of mental illness at higher rates than other groups. Our marketing director wrote a piece about entrepreneurs and mental illness for Startup Grind in 2015 – find it here – that discussed the alarming percentage of entrepreneurs that have been diagnosed or directly affected by mental illness.
For those who are curious, that number is an astonishing 72%.
In a study published in the respected journal Advances in Mental Health, Dr. Amy Sickel, Dr. Jason Seacat, and Dr. Nina Nabors found that “the overall lifetime prevalence of any mental illness was 46.6%, suggesting nearly half of American adults are likely to experience a mental disorder during their lifetime.”
It’s becoming more clear that mental health isn’t just a topic for those already diagnosed with mental illness. It’s a topic for everyone, and that includes entrepreneurs.
Predisposed to being deeply creative, easily bored individuals, entrepreneurs are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness or comorbid mental illnesses. World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to bring awareness to these statistics and facts that could be life-changing for some.
Sharing awareness to change lives
Every time the hashtag #WorldMentalHealthDay is shared, someone who hasn’t heard of the holiday becomes aware of it. Someone who didn’t know what the holiday was about gains understanding. Someone who hasn’t been feeling like themselves realizes that mental illness isn’t something to be ostracized, but something to be dealt with and brought into the light.
Think mental illness is no longer ostracized in our society? Think again. The Department of Counseling and School Psychology at the University of Massachusetts explains the conundrum the mentally ill face when they realize they may need treatment:
“People with mental illness are viewed as incompetent, violent, and responsible for their illness. A recent comparative study showed no decline in these attitudes toward psychotic, mood and substance use disorders over the past decade. This study indicated a strong reluctance in most respondents to associate, live, or work with people who suffer from mental illness. Studies further suggest that, due to stigma, people with mental illness are likely to encounter discriminatory reactions even when they are symptom free.
“This social taboo causes a paradox for someone struggling with mental health; they find themselves determining whether the social risks outweigh the benefits of a diagnosis and treatment of their mental illness. Beyond that, a person’s perceived stigma (i.e. self-stigma) can cause a shame so strong that they deny there is a problem and avoid treatment completely.”
For World Mental Health Day on October 10 and every day after that, think about the stigma that surrounds mental illness and the way it imprisons those suffering from it from getting the help and treatment they need. Do your part to spread awareness and show understanding and support to anyone you know with mental illness – and those you know that may not have been diagnosed yet.