Event summary produced by The Globe and Mail Events team. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.
Small business owners are facing unprecedented challenges related to COVID-19. From keeping employees safe to securing financial support for wages, rent and expenses, stress levels have likely never been higher among entrepreneurs.
The Globe and Mail, in partnership with BDC, hosted a webcast on May 26 to create a forum for discussion on how small business owners can protect their mental health and wellness through the crisis.
Highlights from the discussion appear below the recorded webcast.
Below are a few takeaways from the discussion:
1). Stress is a normal reaction to the pandemic
Anxiety, stress and grief are all normal emotions at a time like this, said Sam Duboc, a serial entrepreneur with lived experience with mental illness, and founder of MindBeacon Health. Often, entrepreneurs are hard on themselves for feeling this way but given the circumstances of COVID-19, it’s part of the normal human condition and it’s important for small business owners to acknowledge that.
2). Don’t wait to seek help
Megan Rafuse, a therapist who co-founded the Shift Collab clinic said individuals sometimes hold off on seeking professional help, thinking their mental state isn’t “that bad.” She advised entrepreneurs to avoid waiting for symptoms of mental illness to worsen before taking action. It’s always better to get help earlier, she noted, to help prevent mental illness.
3). Break down the stigma
When Michael DeVenney experienced mental illness as a serial entrepreneur, he was reluctant to talk about it. He felt small business owners are supposed to be optimistic and determined, ready for any challenge. Some entrepreneurs are worried what their investors will think if they learn the founder has a mental illness. Overcoming stigma is key, said DeVenney, who founded The Mindset Project, a business focused on the data of entrepreneurial mental health. He encouraged entrepreneurs to take care of their mental health through exercise, meditation and therapy.
4) Don’t feel alone
Annie Marsolais, chief marketing officer with BDC, referred to a survey in which more than half of entrepreneurs said stress was having an impact on their concentration, and that was before the pandemic. BDC conducts rolling surveys of entrepreneurs and found 90 percent out of a group of 1,000 said they will be negatively impacted by COVID-19. Small business owners should know they aren’t alone in feeling such acute levels of stress, she said.
View the full recorded webcast above.