Covid and the mental health of entrepreneurs (Radio column)

This article is complementary to our column on the Québec Réveille radio show on CKIA hosted by Marjorie Champagne.

We won't talk about digital in this article. Rather, we will be speaking for our fellow entrepreneurs from all walks of life. We are going to speak for the thousands of microenterprises and SMEs that are in the midst of the turmoil trying to keep their ships afloat.

It has been almost a year since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Much has been written and much has been said about the pandemic and the crisis it caused. A lot of topics are being discussed in the press about the problems faced by a large part of the population. We hear about seniors, people at risk, the health care system, young children, teenagers and high school students who will be negatively impacted by the Covid.

Problems of child abuse, language delays, isolation and other distress will be less well detected and diagnosed. We are also thinking of the medical and social personnel who face so much psychological and physical distress on a daily basis.

However, there is one thing that is under-reported. Little is said about the mental health of entrepreneurs. We don't talk about the health of those who struggle every morning to keep their heads above water or simply to survive.

Today, I decided to open up to you and talk about the pressure that entrepreneurs have been feeling since the beginning of this pandemic, entrepreneurs who have been struggling to keep their heads above water since the beginning of this crisis and who are struggling every day to make ends meet. This is a subject that is close to our hearts. For having gone through difficulties and having fought daily like many in this ordeal, we have decided to speak with a common voice with all the entrepreneurs of this country.

We had the opportunity to speak with Martin Enault, President of Revivre, an organization that has been fighting for the mental health of workers and entrepreneurs for over 30 years. We wanted to share the highlights of this discussion with our readers so that they understand the importance of mental health.

The reality of entrepreneurs

Since the beginning of the crisis, we are witnessing a worrying disappearance of some parts of our industry, the most affected sectors are unsurprisingly the event industry, catering, tourism, leisure, sports, as well as aviation. The monetary loss caused by this economic slowdown is worrisome and leads us to ask the question: what does this loss actually represent?

From one day to the next, entrepreneurs found themselves with businesses that had become illegitimate in the eyes of the state, because they were "non-essential". The businesses closed, but the deadlines didn't stop there, as many of us still had fixed charges paid, such as rent, suppliers, or other administrative fees. Just as many people depend on us, we have our own family to feed, our employees depend on us to feed theirs, with a closed business and the saturation of the job market, the fallout will be catastrophic. Trying as best they can to see the glass half full, most of us are now exhausted and stressed by the Covid-19 crisis. How can we cope with all this? Unfortunately, we can't reinvent ourselves all the time. For many, a short-term reconversion is impossible.

One can think that entrepreneurs have an unfailing character. However, the energy that business people have in common, the energy that pushes them to carry out projects, is also likely to pull them down.

The predisposition to take risks and have a high level of motivation is directly linked to the origin of certain mental health problems. In fact, if we compare entrepreneurs to the average population, we notice that they have 10 times more bipolar disorders, 6 times more ADHD, 3 times more consumption problems and 2 times more depression. Highlighting

Another segment of society that is also on the sidelines: the police and mental health workers. Calls for help are increasing exponentially, and the increased number of reports of suicide attempts is causing the police and mental health workers to overflow. Martin Enault tells us that he himself has received more than 500 calls from entrepreneurs in distress since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2019, it was 1 out of 2 entrepreneurs who were experiencing difficulties. Today, this figure is difficult to quantify.

Social safety nets are almost non-existent for entrepreneurs. If you own more than 40% of a business, there is no compensation, assistance or recourse in case of loss.

Social isolation

Entrepreneurs are among the people who are most invested in their work and therefore spend the least time with their loved ones, and the better the business runs, the less time you take to see them. The arrival of the pandemic has only accentuated this social isolation. Gabriel Marcel (French philosopher) used to say "There is only one suffering is to be alone".

The returns on investment are immense when you invest in the mental health of employees. Why not invest in the mental health of entrepreneurs? After all, you have to create jobs. Where will employees go to work in the economic desert left by Covid-19? Governments will have to react. It is more than time.

Today many companies are investing in the mental health of their employees, this investment is even encouraged by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Hygiene. However, there is no public body that doesn't talk about the mental health of entrepreneurs? Yet they are the first job creators. Once the covid-19 pandemic is over, how many entrepreneurs will not succeed in recovering? And how many jobs will consequently be lost? The first victims of this disinterest in entrepreneurship by the public authorities will be the workers.

*I started my first businesses at the age of 16. I lost everything several times. I have put myself in impossible contexts on several occasions. It's almost impossible not to develop issues of depression and anxiety when the bank refuses you a loan, you lose a contract and you can't pay your employees. These events are traumatic and cause you to fall more and more into burnout. Martin Enault, president of Revivre, an organization that helps people to recover from burnout.

The press, The hidden face of entrepreneurship: daring, visionary and… tormented

Here is a list of useful resources if you are an entrepreneur and feel overwhelmed:

Relive Suicide.ca Self-help group The Parachute

❤️ For a better world turned towards humans Laure Gabrielle

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