Mental Health – Give Yourself A Break

I have been meaning to talk about mental health for a while.

I saw this chart of COVID cases in France tonight and it screams ‘we are not close to getting back to a pre-COVID world or economy’…

The economic crisis and the mental health crisis is not just going to magically disappear.

I had my friend Brad Feld on the podcast recently and we always talk about mental health when we hang (as well as the strength of our pee stream), but we never got to the subject this time.

Brad takes the subject very seriously and always writes about it on his blog. Recently he had two great posts on the subject – here and here.

This from Brad is dead on:

Humans are not built to be isolated in their homes for months at a time. Founders, who are already under immense pressure from many directions, now have to contend with that dynamic for themselves in an uncertain business environment, connected only by video conferencing and email to their teams, investors, and customers. At the same time, there is no relief from the endless intensity of creating and leading a business.

It should be no surprise that the mental health part of the crisis is real and accelerating. Toss in the dissonance in our society. Some tech companies stock prices are at record highs, while established businesses are in a complete retreat or freefall. Many small businesses are on the verge of extinction – ponder all the local retail businesses and restaurants in your city. Local and state governments are under economic and functional stress. We have record unemployment and a macro communication environment (media, politics, news) that is divisive rather than unifying. We are in an election year in the US. Oh yeah, and the disease.

Fortunately, the stigma associated with mental health, especially among founders, is lessening. It’s still real, but more are talking about it. There are many more coaching options like Reboot to help founders, CEOs, and leaders through this. There are companies, like Meru Health (which we recently funded) that are working to make mental health services more broadly accessible and affordable. And, many leaders are speaking out regularly about their struggles with their mental health, making it much easier to start and navigate conversations about mental health.

In the future, I hope we are much more effective as a species around addressing and helping with mental health issues. The sooner we can eliminate the stigma around mental health, especially in entrepreneurship, the better.

I struggled with intense anxiety for most of my life.

I dealt with it in the only way I knew how…make it worse for everyone else!

It was working too if not for those pesky things called a wife and kids and employees and friends.

Luckily, I could afford therapy and drugs (Lexapro for me), and I am mostly anxiety free.

I have no idea if I would be a better investor or entrepreneur, wealthier or more creative and ambitious without the therapy and the chemicals but I sure am happier.

I hope that does not sound too selfish. Maybe my happiness was not the plan for me and I will pay for it when I come back as a cat or a politician.

In the meantime, I love being calmer. I love not chasing every idea. I love being in the moment almost all the time.

I know most people do not have the luxury of my choices and options so I am trying to pay it forward every day and I am focused on being less of a burden and a better listener to the people I work with everyday.