Minority businesses make up almost 15 percent of the 28 million small businesses and employ 5.9 million workers in the United States according to CNBC. Many employees are leaving their corporate jobs to pursue their passion, escape the unreasonable expectations of a boss, improve work-life balance, or eliminate stress and pressures associated with high-level positions.
But they quickly find out that they gave up one boss to have many bosses, i.e. clients, and that the number of hours expected of business owners dwarfs that of a job, while stress and pressures escalates with the many responsibilities inherent of owning a business. This is enough to cause anyone to feel anxious, stressed, and even depressed when things don't exactly add up to what you envisioned as a business owner.
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This is a time for people of color to reflect on their own mental well-being. Often business owners lack insurance for medical problems, let alone have insurance to cover their mental wellness. Research has shown that minorities often do not receive mental health treatment and when they do it is subpar when they don't have insurance. I share this with you because similar to getting an annual checkup physically this can be the month that you get a mental checkup.
I once read that entrepreneurs are crazy. They would rather work 80 hours for themselves than 40 hours for someone else. This is an interesting statement that often rings true. The complexity of owning a business can be overwhelming while gratifying, but it can also trigger some mental illnesses.
Even though mental illness does not discriminate, the difference between minorities and non-minorities is that mental illness is still very taboo for people of color. People may not get the help that they need because of the stigma associated with getting help in the minority community. Aside from stigma, here are some reasons why people will avoid getting help even when they recognize that a problem exists.
Often people will go to their family members for advice even though they don't have a mental health background. The problem with this is that several mental illnesses are hereditary. What may seem like normal behavior to your family is actually abnormal but they are unaware of such because they may be suffering from the same disorder. Seek professional help to manage your mental health.
You may fear receiving an actual diagnosis. It is one thing to act abnormal and to even think that something may be wrong, but it is another whole story when there is a confirmed diagnosis. This may alter and change your life which can cause fear. But to have a disorder and not be treated can lead to problems down the road. Let go of your fear of the unknown to learn the truth about your health.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to get insurance as a new business owner without employees, and some insurance does not have robust policies to cover mental health. This leaves a lot of people having to pay out of pocket. But there are programs that you can apply for to offset the cost of mental health. It's amazing what people will invest in or spend money on before they invest in their mental well-being. Money spent on your mind will be money well-spent.
Plain and simple, some people have a mental illness and refuse to acknowledge, accept, or admit that anything is wrong. They live like an ostrich with their head in the sand believing that no one can see their unusual behaviors or they see their behavior as being a "quirky" entrepreneur. This can take a devastating toll on both the person in denial and those around him who are often impacted adversely by his decisions, actions and behaviors.
The month of July should be a time to be courageous and seek help. It is a reminder that minorities are not inoculated from mental illness. As more people venture off into their own business there will be a greater need to recognize that help is needed across the board.