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You're Not Alone: Entrepreneurs Need To Talk About Their Mental Health Battles Entrepreneurs (and those who were once entrepreneurs) are often the best people to help others in the entrepreneurial community understand and overcome their mental health battles.

By Alex Malouf

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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

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Being an entrepreneur is one of the most exciting things I've ever done. It's exhilarating to be your own boss, to be making all the decisions for your and your company's work. After all, entrepreneurship is all about passion, commitment, and an urge to do something different.

But there is another side to entrepreneurship, which is less often discussed in the media. For those who do fully commit to setting up their own firm (and I'm not simply referring to a side job here, or some kind of a distraction), entrepreneurship can mean constant pressure, both on finances, as well as on your family and friends. The need to make your venture work financially and operationally can mean that work is relentless. There's often no one else to help out, especially in the beginning. Everything is on you as the entrepreneur.

Related: The Truth About Entrepreneurship

I'm going to now pivot to mental health. The issue is to many in our region a taboo; you don't discuss mental health, and that's probably one of the reasons why there's no statistics on mental health in the Gulf or the wider Middle East. However, global trends suggest mental health problems are on the rise. Acording to a Queen's University study in 2013, Canada's workplace levels of stress have doubled since 2009, and financial stress has tripled. At any one time, a sixth of the population in England aged 16 to 64 have a mental health problem, according to statistics body NHS Digital.

Mental health problems aren't unique to entrepreneurs (I've written about the issue in the communications industry). However, due to the pressure cooker environment and the myriad of stresses that company founders face, research in Canada has shown that entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from poor mental health. The challenges of stress, isolation, excessive working hours, uncertainty about the business, and a lack of support can lead to depression or other mental health issues.

Building on from this, my question is when will entrepreneurs begin to talk about mental health, and share their own stories? We all have experiences, both good and bad, that others can learn from. Entrepreneurs (and those who were once entrepreneurs) are often the best people to help others in the entrepreneurial community understand and overcome their mental health battles. Can we as a community come together and not just talk about mental health, but help others who are taking the same journey as we are or have done?

I hope the answer would be yes.

Related: Your Tough Experiences As An Entrepreneur Can Help Your Peers Succeed With Their Endeavors

Riyadh-based Alex Malouf is a marketing communications executive and expert who has spent the last two decades in the Middle East. A journalist by training, and with a cultural mix that is both European and Arabic, Alex’s expertise spans communications and media, public relations, and marketing. He has led communications for multinationals in the digital, electric mobility, energy, sustainability, technology, and fast-moving consumer goods space, while also advising  ministers and entities in the Gulf's government sector.  

An entrepreneur in his own right (along with his wife, Alex founded the first business-to-business magazines in Saudi Arabia), Alex’s experience includes corporate communications, media relations and outreach, content development, crisis/ reputation management, and digital/social media. When he’s not putting pen to paper, Alex can be found advocating for the region’s media and public relations industry as the best way to tell the region's story and build national brands. 

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