Being a founder can be an incredibly lonely journey. Late nights spent toiling away that lead into early mornings. And a relentless amount of challenges that are usually being worked on in the shadows. All of this takes a toll on one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
A note Melanie Perkins wrote to herself in 2011 provides a glimpse into what it’s like:
Mel you’re extremely tired. You are in a challenging situation, though you can pull through. Nothing bad is really happening, you’re just feeling depressed because you are so used to achieving things quickly. It’s a hard environment. There is no doubt you will succeed and you will find the team you need, get the investment you need and build the company you have always wanted. You have chosen to put yourself in a challenging situation. If it wasn’t challenging you wouldn’t feel as satisfied when you get to the end goal.
Even for founders running objectively successful businesses, like Mel, it’s incredibly tough.
Many founders are, unfortunately, all too familiar with burning the candle at both ends. Despite being acclimated to dealing with daily turbulence and disruptions to business, founders weren’t left unscathed by the pandemic.
Research from KPMG’s 2021 Fitness, fulfilment and foresight report found that Covid impacted founders in several ways.
Losing sleep, working longer hours and financial pressures compounding — a recipe for disaster when you’re responsible for decision-making, leadership, communications and just about everything else under the sun. KPMG’s report also found that in 2020 there was a significant increase in founders seeking advice from a counsellor or therapist, compared to 2019.
The AirTree Mental Health & Wellbeing Support List
Mental health is a topic close to our hearts. We always try to support our portfolio company founders as much as possible when they’re going through these tough times. As investors, it’s important that we set the right example for our industry by reminding everyone it’s okay to not be okay and ask for help. We want all founders and their teams to feel safe about opening up and seeking help and offer subsidies to those in the AirTree fam if they want to speak to a professional.
We witnessed the pressures on founders intensifying in real-time at the start of the pandemic. So we decided to open-source the mental health resources we’d been developing over the past few years.
There are currently 13 million Australians in lockdown, many working remotely and blurring (an understatement) the line between work-life balance — a special shout-out to all the parents. We’ll spare you the adage of This too shall pass. Even once lockdowns lift and life resumes back to “normal”, it doesn’t automatically flick the switch on mental health. Open conversations about mental health and support need to be ongoing, which is why we’ve updated our Open Source Support Panel.
In this living document, you’ll find:
- Clinical Psychologists
- Sleep specialists
- Mindfulness experts
- Executive coaches
They’ve all been recommended by either the AirTree team or our community. We welcome you to continue adding great people working in this space.
Recommended reading & listening
Founders — Get Your Own Personal Board
Passion for Your Startup Doesn’t Have to Mean Constant Stress
Building a Company While Battling Depression
Anxiety tips for entrepreneurs
A full list of AirTree’s Open Source VC resources can be accessed here.
If you need help or support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.
More help is available: