Google mental health and self-employment, and you’ll see a discouraging list of reasons why starting your own business isn’t good for people with mental health challenges. That’s not necessarily the whole story, however. That’s why I want to look at why I think starting your own online business can be beneficial for your mental health.
Sites often quote statistics that show people in business suffer more with mental health problems. However, is that true? One in four people experiences mental illness. That’s 25% of people. 25% of people in employment, and 25% of people in self-employment. Viewing it that way, it’s not so clear-cut.
People who have started their own business after experiencing a mental health crisis would argue differently. For people with mental health difficulties, keeping a job is often more challenging than being self-employed. I know many people who battle with bipolar, for example, lose their jobs because of their illness. Running your own online business when you have bipolar, therefore, makes sense, at least in my book!
Mental Health and Self-Employment: Benefits
Keeping your job when you have mental health difficulties can be a considerable challenge. While attitudes are slowly changing, many people receive their P45s because of their illnesses. If your self-esteem is already low, getting the news that you’re no longer an asset to your employer is devastating. Therefore, a lot of people find that setting up their own online business is a boost for their mental health. There are several benefits to this.
You Don’t Have to Make Excuses to Your Boss
When you are the boss, one major benefit is not having to discuss your mental health with people who don’t get it. What’s more, there’s no feeling like you have to keep your illness a secret.
There’s still a lot (too much!) of stigma around mental health, despite efforts to change this. People with mental illnesses are more often victims of misunderstanding in comparison to people with physical ailments. It shouldn’t be that way, but unfortunately, mental illness is feared as well as being looked down on.
Self-employment takes away the unbearable pressure of employers and colleagues who don’t understand what life with a mental health condition entails. It also gets rid of those awful feelings of shame and inadequacy.
Control Over Your Hours and Workload
I’m not suggesting that self-employment with a mental health difficulty is not without challenges. You still have to earn a living, but you have much more flexibility and control. You call the shots. Understanding your limitations makes it easier to take control of your workload, reducing the chances of it becoming overwhelming.
The rigidity of the workplace can be difficult for people with mental health problems. Therefore, being in control of working hours is a huge benefit. You know your capabilities and restrictions, and you can build your business around them. While traditional employment often seems to set people with mental illness up for failure, self-employment does the opposite.
You Feel Like A Valuable Part of Society Again
This is possibly the most significant benefit for people with mental illness who have experienced unemployment. It’s easy to feel as if mental health challenges have stolen your career. You might also think that they’ve left you without anything to contribute to the world. Starting a business gives you the opportunity to change that. You can build a business doing something that you’re passionate about and feel valued as a result.
There are plenty of people out there who are self-employed because of their mental health issues, and their work brings joy to others. If you’re debating about whether self-employment with mental illness is right for you, my advice is to give it a try! What’s the worst that can happen?
For people with mental illnesses, becoming self-employed is often the route to better mental health. For me, it indeed was. My mental health has significantly improved since I launched copywriting and coaching business, and I can honestly say I wish I’d done it sooner!