Get All Access for $5/mo

5 Practical Strategies Founders Can Use to Improve Their Mental Health Supporting your mental health is one of the most important investments you can make in your company. If you're unsure where to begin, choose one of these strategies and focus on implementing it in your everyday life.

By Valentina Zakirova Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For decades, discussing mental health issues carried a stigma that made it impossible to have meaningful discourse on the subject. Over the past few years, attitudes have shifted, thanks to the increased availability of scientific knowledge and movements for equality and authenticity.

One of the unfortunate truths of entrepreneurship is that founders, especially younger ones, suffer from mental health troubles at a much higher rate than the general population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 72% of founders report mental health struggles. In comparison, the numbers for the average person are about 48%.

The good news is that we can finally speak more openly about these struggles and find solutions. In my experience, the five strategies below are an excellent starting point for founders to positively impact their mental health.

1. Start by taking care of your team

They say you can't pour from an empty cup, and this is true. However, taking a "bottom-up" approach to improving mental health in the workplace can actually provide a massive boost for founders.

This idea might seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that a healthy team directly corresponds to a healthy leader. Founders spend the majority of their time immersed in their company culture. Investing time and resources into fostering a connected, healthy workplace for your team leads to happier employees, more efficient management and a huge stress reduction for the CEO.

Deloitte notes that the annual ROI from implementing wellness programs can be as much as 162%, which can also lower founder stress.

Related: 5 Simple Ways to Do More for Your Employees' Mental Health This Week

2. Limit your social media exposure

This sentiment is true for all areas of life, but it's especially valuable for entrepreneurs. According to Proof Factor, at least 31% of founders secretly worry they'll go out of business. However, if you look on social media, you would never know.

It's common for founders (and people in general) to only show the "successful success" moments, meaning they curate their company image to highlight positives and downplay stress or challenges. Even if we know this to be true, it's difficult to see past the bias this creates. Young founders are especially susceptible to this, because they often feel alone in their struggles and aren't sure how or where to reach out for support.

Some studies show that limiting social media time to roughly 30 minutes per day decreases feelings of loneliness, pessimism, anxiety and depression in the general population. The same is true for founders.

3. Make sure your partners and VCs are a good fit

It can be hard to say "no" to potential investors or seemingly qualified business partners. However, letting the wrong partners into the company can significantly drain a founder's mental health.

Before entering into a partnership, be sure to do a thorough reference check. There are plenty of horror stories about demanding partners calling CEOs at all hours, disrupting board meetings and pressuring founders for constant updates.

Not only does a bad partnership cause tension in the workplace, but it can be a constant source of anxiety for founders. Tony Robbins says that understanding what a healthy partnership looks like from the outset can help limit the chances of finding out you have a bad business partner. He notes that positive things to look for are an individual who is solution-oriented, forthcoming about their past, fair in all business dealings and communicative.

Related: 6 Red Flags Warning Your Business Partner Will Drag You Down

4. Forge meaningful connections with other founders

It's lonely at the top, and that sense of isolation can cause various mental and physical health problems. The National Institutes of Health and the CDC agree that loneliness can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, depression and general cognitive decline.

One of the best things founders can do to support their mental and physical health is to seek out friendships with mentor figures or communities of like-minded people. Peer support groups allow for honest conversation about personal and professional issues.

They allow business leaders to build trust and connections with others and potentially find solutions to their problems. Harvard Business Review notes that one crucial aspect of peer support groups is "What's said in the room stays in the room," so founders can feel safe and grounded in that space.

5. Add the right tech to your life to cope with stress

There are plenty of general tech solutions for the average person to support and improve their mental health. These same tools work just as well for founders!

Some of the latest tech solutions include chatbots like Woebot, which offer therapy-style conversations 24/7. Other apps like Headspace and Calm can help with better sleep and mindfulness habits.

Additionally, founders can use health and wellness gadgets to gather data about their overall health and use it to make positive changes. This includes tech like the Aura ring to track sleep patterns or the Feel wristband that monitors emotions in real-time.

Founders often feel like their lives are consumed by their businesses. It can often seem easier to push aside feelings of isolation, burnout, stress and anxiety to "deal with later," but this is not sustainable. Investing in your mental health is an investment in long-term success.

Related: Startup Founders Can't Afford to Ignore Mental Health

Experts have found that entrepreneurs are twice as likely to suffer from depression than non-founders and are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from addiction as a coping mechanism. Supporting your mental health is one of the most important investments you can make in your company. If you're unsure where to begin, choose one of the strategies listed in this article, and focus on implementing it in your everyday life. Remember, small changes can snowball into big wins.

Valentina Zakirova

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Investment Officer at SDVentures

At SDVentures, Valentina Zakirova supervises 30+ direct VC investments, a venture fund-of-funds, and an internal incubator for online dating products. Valentina had initiated and completed deals with Flo, Patreon, Woebot, Grabr, AFG, NEA, Khosla Ventures, DCM, Bling VC, Bain, and Target Global.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.


This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.


Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.