Despite the fact that one in five adults experiences a mental health problem at one time or another, mental illness isn't widely discussed. The stigma that is still attached to mental health problems, like depression and anxiety causes many people to suffer in silence.
But one entrepreneur is making it his mission to change that. Cory Miller, the founder of iThemes, is boldly raising awareness about emotional well-being and he's making it clear that entrepreneurs aren't immune to mental health problems.
Not only has Miller shared about his own battle with depression, but he's also offering mental health resources to the freelancers and entrepreneurs he works with. In fact, I first came in contact with Miller when he invited me to offer a webinar to his community on mental strength. As a psychotherapist, I'm thrilled someone is starting these important conversations about mental health topics in the tech industry.
To learn more about Miller's passion for talking about mental health with his community, I interviewed him about his goals. Here are his edited answers to my questions:
What type of resources do you offer your community?
We've been doing online training for over six years now. It's in our DNA as a company, and we offer that training primarily through webinars. So when I decided to make mental wellness a focus for us, it was easy to do via webinars to our community. It saves on time and cost for everyone. And we can efficiently get great resources to our community fast.
Our other paid training is centered around helping our community be successful in their work as web designers and developers. We have tons of webinars on the technical aspects of their work, like HTML, CSS, PHP, WordPress, among others, as well as webinars on pricing and packaging their work and running a business.
Our customer community focus this year is called WProsper. We want our community to do well, and do better, with WordPress and iThemes. Mental health is a natural part of that focus. All of those webinars and training opportunities are free for anyone.
Most entrepreneurs want to talk to their audience about business, not depression. What made you start talking about mental health?
I believe entrepreneurship is one of the greatest mechanisms to make positive change happen in the world. But entrepreneurship is also one of the toughest, most lonely jobs in the world. Most of our family and friends don't understand the work we do and what we deal with on a day to day basis building businesses that impact people's lives in so many ways.
As entrepreneurs, we're too good at hiding our struggles. We're too prideful to admit that we're hurting. So we suffer in silence. It's time for that to change.
I've talked very openly about mental health for years now internally with our team and in private conversations with other people. But a couple months ago, I decided to take it to another level and step into the light boldly to talk about it publicly. I knew if I really wanted to make a difference, I needed to finally share my personal story and struggle of dealing with depression and divorce-something I hadn't talked about publicly for five years-and also my daily journey and struggle just to maintain good mental wellness as an entrepreneur.
Someone has to start talking openly and candidly about all of this. We have to erase the stigma of mental health and mental illness and empower people who are hurting to seek help.
How has your community reacted to your desire to talk about mental health?
The mission of our business-or what I call our warm and fuzzy mantra-is to Make People's Lives Awesome. Entrepreneurship is about profit and purpose. You can't have one without the other. And thus, I view our business as a platform to do good in the world, which means sharing the message of mental health so others get and seek help.
I've had numerous public messages of support about it, and humbling private messages of people I know sharing their stories and thanking me for sharing doing so. I firmly believe it's been empowering for others to seek help, to talk about what's going on inside them more.
And the more I've shared my story the more I've realized how many people are hurting, often deeply and alone, yet not seeking professional guidance and help. That breaks my heart. And part of the purpose of my life is to keep sharing the message of maintaining good mental wellness. I hope others will join me.