13 May 2019

UKFast and Tech Manchester Wellness Festival - Mental Health Awareness WeekMore than half of UK entrepreneurs have reported mental health issues. Whilst on first look this number seemed shockingly high, on second look, I am surprised it’s not higher.

The pressure that comes with going out on a limb to set up your own business is incomparable. It is almost inevitable that it will start to take its toll.

Yet, I often find that business leaders can be too proud to ask for and accept the help to get them through these challenges. Whilst the conversation is moving in a positive direction, we’re more open than ever about mental health, there are people who are still reluctant to acknowledge when they need help.

When you look at the numbers, which show that stress and mental wellbeing are identified as a major challenge in the sector, with 58% of entrepreneurs surveyed by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards reporting mental health issues, it’s clear that this is a big issue. More than half of entrepreneurs – that’s the majority.

It’s not easy, but it is ok not to be ok. Ultimately, you can plough on and run yourself into the ground, but in the long term, you’re doing yourself no favours. There are so many ways that you can get a little extra help or support when you’re feeling the strain. So many of us have been there. Being an entrepreneur can be incredibly lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.

Reaching out

It’s remarkable what happens when you do reach out, either to friends and family or colleagues and mentors. One entrepreneur who has been forthcoming on his own mental health struggles is Vikas Shah. Vikas, CEO of The Swiscot Group and honorary professor, said to BusinessCloud some time ago that it is ‘time to stop with campaign after campaign after campaign around mental health, and get down to some concrete action instead’. I couldn’t agree more.

I’m proud that UKFast is teaming up with not-for-profit Tech Manchester to deliver a Wellness Festival to help SME entrepreneurs and employees support one another when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.Yoga - UKFast and Tech Manchester Wellness Festival - Mental Health Awareness Week

I have heard from so many business leaders who have the best of intentions in supporting their teams to take better care of their physical and mental health and wellbeing but don’t really know where to start. The festival is an opportunity to find out by giving them the chance to do taster sessions and workshops to try out what works for their business, without having to commit to something that may not be right for them. It’s all for free too.

Focus on wellbeing

It is great to see so many people recognising the strain that business can put on people. Running a startup is hard, and as the business grows, those pressures evolve with it. It’s essential that we all learn how to maintain a healthy balance in our own lives to be able to manage these pressures. That balance looks different to each of us.

Ultimately, if we are to focus on better mental health, we have to help one another to get there through events like the festival or just sharing what you know works for you and your business. For me it’s all about starting to take better care of ourselves overall. Physical fitness is intrinsic to mental fitness in my experience. Staying fit and healthy invariably has a huge impact on my mindset and mood.

Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity to check in with yourself. Are you feeling ok? Do you need to look for extra help and support?

So this week, take a moment to check in with yourself and with those around you. You never know the impact that one chat could have.

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