Affecting roughly 300 million people of all ages worldwide, depression is one of the leading contributors to the global burden of disease. Less than half of this statistic is currently receiving treatment for the pervasive condition, and according to the World Health Organization, about one million people commit suicide per year. The symptoms are often hard to identify, and even harder to mitigate, as both often belong to a myriad of factors.

Those that fall victim to bouts or episodes are equally at risk of exacerbating their disorder due to daily anxieties; work-related stress is one of the more commonly cited reactors.

A survey recently conducted by The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 56% of employees feel that their struggle with mental health actively interferes with their workplace performance, with an additional 51% saying the condition adversely impacted relationships with their peers.  As far as the stressors are concerned, deadlines were found to be the biggest culprit with 55% of respondents occasioning this in particular, though interpersonal relationships and staff management followed close behind with 53% and 50% respectively.

Limited awareness

There are unique pressures that accompany an office setting. Isolation is one of the key characteristics of depression. Whether fathered by a fear of social failure, or an impulse to engage in self-destructive behavior, sufferers often have a difficult time adjusting to work cultures that survive on collaboration.

The introverted, slightly askew cubicle dweller illuminates the more traditional scenario, but according to a massive new survey entrepreneurs, the “drivers of our economy”, face distinct mental health challenges that often go overlooked by reason of stigmas and limited awareness.

The survey of nearly 500 business owners suggests an alarming lack of resources for victims of one of the most common illnesses in the world. “We want this report to start an open conversation and shift the popular view of entrepreneurs from ‘tireless innovator’ or ‘lone visionary’ to one that allows them to show their vulnerability and ask for help when needed,” explains  Fardous Hosseiny, interim National CEO and National Director, Research and Public Policy at The Canadian Mental Health Association, which conducted the recent report titled Going it Alone: The Mental health and well-being of Canada’s entrepreneurs. “There needs to be more discussion about entrepreneur mental health and more attention paid to it by entrepreneur networks and organizations,” Hosseiny continued.

The exhaustive paper revealed that as many as two-thirds of entrepreneurs feel depressed at least once a week. Not unlike the respondents cited just above from The Anxiety and Depression Association of America survey, 46% of this same pool of business owners said that their depression frequently hindered their ability to work. Female entrepreneurs and business owners that were in the early stages of their venture were found to be two of the more depressed groups of all the participants surveyed.

It’s important to remember that mental illness only recently entered our consciousness as a disease to be taken seriously. Because of this, the instruments meant to treat this stuff are still fairly blunt. Awareness is our best course presently.

Michael Denham is the President and CEO at The BDC,which is the organization dedicated to entrepreneurs that supported the researchers of the new study. Denham believes that the new survey will go along way in supplying business owners with the tools and support they need to tackle their mental health struggles while manning the vertiginous landscape of entrepreneurship. Denham explains to BIospace,

“We want to make sure mental health is included in discussions about entrepreneurship in Canada. The CMHA study has enabled us to take the pulse of entrepreneurs’ well-being and now we are better positioned to take helpful action.”

Originally published on The Ladders.

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