Being an Entrepreneur Can Mess with Your Mental Health

Hi everyone, my name is Kewashah Naomi and if you are reading this that means you are on my website site. A site I made, in an attempt to launch my business “Mental Unwind”, leave corporate America and fully dive into the mental health field head first. I am happy to report that I am working in the mental health field and things are going well. Also……. I still work in corporate America, because they pay my bills.

Contrary to popular belief, therapists are underpaid. The Department of Family and Child Services, which is the largest single employer of people in the mental health field in GA, have a median salary that is less then $45K. This means that roughly half of the people that work there make less than that. Please note that these people all have masters and are dealing with extremely stressful situations daily. I say all this to point out that most therapist have multiple jobs and at least one of those jobs has something to do with them being an entrepreneur, on some level. Many times, it’s not by choice, it’s by necessity. I am one of those people.

I started my journey towards being a therapist while I was in corporate America. I had a decent salary and benefits. About a year into my program I changed corporate jobs for an even better one with significantly more money and even better benefits. The plan was to save as much as possible for the pay cut, I knew I would have to take once I entered the field. The problem I forgot to factor is, my own mental health. When creating my savings budget, I forgot to budget for fun. I forgot to budget for my own therapist. I was budgeting for bills and potential emergencies, which though important, was a set up for failure. Luckily, I had great mentors in graduate school that insisted that I not quit my corporate job and work in the field part time until I could find the job, I wanted that paid for more than just bills. So I did, and lo and behold I am still in corporate.

I started mental unwind because I saw a need for the minority community to not only have access to mental health information, but to have it in a way that was easy to understand and relate to. I also started it, so I could finally join the mental health field full-time. The mental gymnastics I have to play when I have to switch from corporate mode to therapist mode is exhausting. I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. Never. It was never a dream of mine to own my own business. I like working for “the man (or woman)”. I like getting my check every 2 weeks and my bomb benefits. I enjoy working from home and having paid time off. I like being off from work in general and having set business hours. The thing is, when you are an entrepreneur, especially a new one, none of those things really apply. No amount of research can prepare you for the sleep deprivation that often comes with it. I am constantly making and breaking new boundaries, as it relates to work. As I mentioned before, it’s going well, I’m booked out in my private practice for the next month, I have had several speaking engagements and more are to come, but the truth is, I need to do better taking care of my mental health. Personally, I can admit I am struggling. I am doing well but, it’s as hard as I thought it would be and I don’t like it. I am not afraid of the hard work, it’s the never ending and constant amount of work with no real end in sight.

In many minority communities, the idea of entrepreneurship is the ultimate goal. The dream of owning one’s own business and “working for yourself” and creating your own hours is a myth that is touted as fact.  You are almost always working when you are an entrepreneur. You are creating content, maintaining or improving on your skills, marketing yourself, working on your billing and the list goes on and one. It’s a never-ending job, until you get to the point where you can hire others to assist.   Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. The stress of it will test anyone’s mental health; much less someone who doesn’t want to do it or is doing it because they think it will be easier than working for someone else. If you decide that you want to be an entrepreneur, do research. As much of it as possible. No one starts a business for the sake of starting it. Know what your goal for the business is before you start it and have a timeline of when you want to reach the goal. Create a budget for both bills and breaks, because you will need the latter at some point. Your mental health will affect your ability to effectively run your business. If you ignore that, your business will either fail or break you in a way that you won’t be able to enjoy the success of it.

To all the entrepreneurs out there, I applaud you, you help to make the world go round, just make sure you take care of yourself well enough to stay on the ride.

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