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Webinars that pay attention to founders’ mental health

A series of webinars by TiE on entrepreneur wellbeing breaks taboos around talking openly about founder depression and other issues

Founders need to take care of their emotional wellbeing (Photo used for representational purposes only)
Founders need to take care of their emotional wellbeing (Photo used for representational purposes only) (iStock )

The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), a non-profit organisation that supports entrepreneurs and startups across its 61 chapters in 14 countries, has recently started a series of webinars aimed at improving the wellbeing of startup founders and providing a safe space to talk about the various challenges that come with building a company, and looking at solutions that enhance wellbeing.

As highlighted in a December 2020 story in Lounge, ‘Founder depression is real, and can be brutal’, founders lead some of the most stressful lives among people we know. “The highs are moderately high and the lows, extremely low. Unlike other small businesses that can grow at their own pace, startups have pressures to be unique, to “disrupt”, get funded and grow fast. Founders have to justify the funding they receive and do it within a limited period of time, all under media and peer scrutiny. So, though traditional small business owners have their own struggles, the pressures on startup founders are manifold,” the story noted.

However, taboos abound when it comes to talking about these challenges. Many founders fear that talking about their struggles with depression or anxiety may make them look vulnerable and unsure of themselves, which may lead to employees, colleagues and investors losing faith in them, and continue to grin and bear it till the strain and pressure leads to a breakdown. It is therefore heartening to see that more and more founders are talking about mental and emotional challenges openly, and institutions are supporting them.

The latest such initiative comes from TiE through its webinar series ‘Entrepreneur Well-Being’, hosted by Amit Mookim, president of TiE’s Mumbai chapter and the managing director of IQVIA, a Fortune 500 healthcare technology company. “We recently ran a survey at TiE about the effects of the ongoing pandemic and how last year’s lockdowns and uncertainties affected entrepreneurs in our network, and the results were quite telling. Overwhelmingly, people said that it has been a stressful and unexpected time, and they were extremely stressed. On being asked what they want to focus on next year, a large number of respondents said they would like to focus on personal growth and wellbeing,” says Mookim. “We all know how challenging the last year has been. People have a confidence crisis. So we decided to do something about it, and these webinars are a result of that.”

The webinar series is planned as a regular online event on the last Saturday of every month. While one webinar session on finding balance with sports scientist and leadership coach Shayamal Vallabhjee has already taken place, an upcoming webinar on 20 February will see Mookim in conversation with mindfulness expert Manish Behl, founder, Mindfulness Science Centre, which conducts workshops and training sessions in mindfulness meditation. "It is great that we are having open conversations about mental health. Many companies have employee wellbeing programmes but unfortunately, it is often seen as a box you have to check as part of HR practices. There should be deeper, continuous engagement," says Mookim.

To register for the TiE webinar, click here

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