It’s still difficult to talk about. Even with the growing conversation around the stresses of being a startup founder. There’s still a stigma. About talking about founder struggles. Or revealing things that have been historically categorized as a weakness. But I sincerely hope that being more open about founder behavioral and mental health is better for all of us. And that’s why I wanted to share these three pieces that wound up crossing my desk at roughly the same time.
Lemon & Honey: Trauma & mental health in the workplace
I’m an engineer who’s led teams, worked in high-scale environments, and worked in companies of sizes 15-3,000. I like to think I know a thing or two about tech startups since I’ve been part of the community for 5 years and I’ve had the opportunity to share experiences with many close friends in the industry.
I also happen to have come from a high-trauma environment.
The New York Times: Silicon Valley Goes to Therapy
Silicon Valley told itself a good story, the best one, really: It was saving the world. For nearly a decade, this gave the modern tech worker purpose, optimism and self-confidence.
Then came the bad headlines, followed by worse headlines — about the industry, about the country, about the world. In search of reassurance, tech workers commandeered the old hippie retreat Esalen, co-opted Burning Man, got interested in psychedelics and meditation. It wasn’t enough.
Now, across Silicon Valley, anxious tech workers are finally admitting they have a problem. And they are going to therapy.
Statistics about founder mental health are concerning. A recent study by University of San Francisco Researcher Michael A. Freeman found that founders are twice as likely to suffer from depression, experience psychiatric hospitalization, and have suicidal thoughts. They are also three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse when compared to the average person. And this situation only gets worse the longer these topics remain taboo.