Destigmatizing founders mental health challenges on tap at Startupfest


Startupfest  2019 is upon us and as usual there are a number of new events as part of Montreal’s biggest tech gathering of the summer. In a rare example of the startup community following the lead of major corporations, this year the festival will feature the launch of a program focussed on mental health support for founders and investors.

Founders Mental Health will kick-off July 13. A group of like-minded people will get together, discuss the mental health of founders and entrepreneurs. We’ll bounce ideas off one another on how to help provide support for entrepreneurs’ mental health and we will have an action plan ready by the end of it” says Francis Beaulieu, a long-time entrepreneur and well known member of the Montreal ecosystem.

Beaulieu expects this to be the start of a regular thing, with meetings taking place every month or month and a half. What exactly those meetings will look like will largely depend on the outcome of this weekend’s kick-off event. He wants input from people who have been affected by mental health in this field.

“Almost half of founders will struggle with depression, anxiety, alcoholism or other challenges” he says. “It’s an event mainly for entrepreneurs, founders, co-founders and investors, who can also struggle with similar mental health issues. A second group who are invited to attend are those who are close to entrepreneurs, such as co-founders, spouses, family and friends. We’ll have a number of like-minded people together who take mental health seriously.”

Beaulieu knows of what he speaks. He was diagnosed bipolar more than 10 years ago. He says 2018 was a hard year, and even though he has access to medication and the right treatment, he feels like he lost a significant chunk of the past year due to mental health issues. For these reasons, he’s decided to take action.

In fact, a recent study points out that entrepreneurs are facing mental health challenges in greater numbers than most other professions. For example, 62% of business owners feel depressed at least once a week. It may not be surprising given the level of stress many entrepreneurs face in getting their businesses off the ground and keeping them growing over time.

For these reasons, Founder Mental Health will be launched at Startupfest this Saturday at 1:00 PM. There is no fee for this event, provided you already have access to Startupfest. Click here to reserve your spot today.

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