A New Study Says 75 Percent of Entrepreneurs Are Concerned About Their Mental Health–and How Their Business Affects the People They Care About

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Building a company can take a toll, especially in terms of anxiety, stress, and even depression. But there is help.

Most U.S. businesses are small businesses; the SBA says there are currently more than 33 million small businesses.

According to no less an authority than Steve Jobs, that’s a good thing.

Yet it’s also a problematic thing, especially where mental health is concerned. According to a study just conducted by Small Biz Silver Lining, a non-profit that provides a variety of tools for entrepreneurs, 75 percent of small business owners are concerned about their mental health, and 56 percent have actually been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or stress-related problems by a doctor or mental health professional.

The majority of entrepreneurs aren’t just tired. Or just burned out. Or just occasionally overwhelmed. They’re concerned about — and often diagnosed as — being anxious, stressed, or depressed.

“Small business owners actually don’t mind working a lot. Seventy percent of respondents said they weren’t concerned about long hours,” says Carissa Reiniger, the founder and CEO of Silver Lining. “But 53 percent say they worry about doing it alone, and over half say they worry that the hours involved impacts the people — family, friends, etc. — they care about.”

Concern is one thing; doing something about a concern is another. Silver Lining found that 73 percent of respondents haven’t sought help because of cost, and 52 percent because of actual or perceived (which winds up being the same thing) lack of time.

That’s why Silver Lining partnered with the Wells Fargo Foundation to create a free De-Stress Handbook with resources to help small business owners identify and better cope with the daily stresses of small business ownership.

“As with our SLAP methodology” (Silver Lining Action Plan, a subscription tool with a pay-what-you-can aspect that helps entrepreneurs establish business and personal financial targets and then create action plans to reach those goals), “the De-Stress handbook focuses on practical, real-world steps small business owners can take,” Reiniger says. “With any behavioral change, you need structure and support in order to take action.”

And, often, a nudge. Silver Lining has found that only 7 percent of the time small business owners ask for help in overcoming a small business challenge; 93 percent of the time, Silver Lining’s algorithms and back-end software trigger timely offers of specific support.

“Small business owners do feel lonely,” Reiniger says. “And they rarely ask for help, even though we offer unlimited support. Yet they’re the same people who constantly offer to help their customers and employees.”

Partly that disconnect is due to the nature of entrepreneurism; people start businesses because they want to chart their own courses. But when “if it is to be, it’s up to be” becomes your mantra, it’s hard to ask for help, even when you need it.

And even though most business owners, especially first-time entrepreneurs, can benefit from a little support and guidance.

“When entrepreneurs follow the basic behavioral elements we know lead to success,” Reiniger says, “the success rate is approximately 95 percent. When you have a good plan you believe in, a dashboard that helps you understand how your behaviors affect outcomes, and consistent structure and support to help you implement your plan over the long-term … almost anything is possible.”

Hopefully, the same is true for what clearly is a mental health crisis among small business owners.

“When you’re worried about your business,” Reiniger says, “when you feel like you’re failing, it’s overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like a burden to the people you care about. Hopefully just knowing that so many other small business owners feel the same way will help, because you’re not alone. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all, at times, need a little help.

“Yet we’re much more likely to ask for technical or practical help when we need it,” she says, “even though asking for help with anxiety, or stress, or depression can make an even bigger difference for your business, and in your life.”

Check out the De-Stress Handbook. It’s free. And in a broader sense, if you find yourself struggling, talk to a fellow entrepreneur. Statistics show 24 million of them are struggling too, so the odds are you’ll instantly find common ground.

And will feel a little less alone.