This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anshul Tewari. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dear Entrepreneur, We Need To Talk About Your Mental Health

More from Anshul Tewari

Yesterday, while reading this post about billionaire entrepreneur Chen Tianqiao, I couldn’t help but think of all those moments in my entrepreneurial journey when I felt anxious and helpless. When I wanted to say a lot but could say nothing.

A few years back, a school friend tried committing suicide after his startup failed miserably. He had raised a small round of funding from his friends and family and that he had to return the money one day was adding to his stresses. He finally decided to give up, and take his life. While he managed to survive, there are many who don’t. Even if they don’t visibly do something to themselves, they end up suffering from clinical depression, anxiety, high degrees of paranoia and more. But we don’t talk about it. Why? Because entrepreneurship has been made out to be a star-studded, firepower business that only people who are poised for success do. And this is where the problem lies.

Mental health is still a black box when it comes to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. Rarely do we talk about the stresses and anxieties that those who run businesses go through – because of growing competition and the pressure to become a star. We are so busy celebrating the multi-billion-dollar unicorns that the ones who get run over in the race are tabooed still, turned into examples of how not to be as entrepreneurs.

As someone who’s been running a company for nearly a decade now, I can attest to the fact that there are several moments every day when you cannot share your anxieties and stresses with the people closest to you because of various reasons – one of them being the fact that you don’t want to disappoint them, or make them lose faith in you. Another being that it genuinely gets difficult for people to understand why it isn’t easy for you to take a break, quit or say no to an opportunity you’ve worked very hard for.

In July this year, a 32-year-old entrepreneur committed suicide after posting the words “I Quit” on his Facebook profile. In April 2016, a Mumbai based entrepreneur committed suicide by inhaling nitrogen gas because he failed to build an app that could beat Whatsapp.

So is there a solution to this? Yes.

Breaking The Silence

The first and foremost step we need to take is to talk about the mental health of entrepreneurs – and accept that entrepreneurs can and do go through mental health issues. In this, bringing entrepreneurship down from the pedestal it is on can play a key role in normalising it like any other career option – where if you don’t succeed, you switch jobs. Our inability to talk about and accept failure is why student suicides grew in the first place – and we could end up seeing a similar trend with careers such as entrepreneurship. More entrepreneurs need to come out and openly discuss failure and the importance of it.


What entrepreneurs often fail to realise is that their company will only grow when they detach themselves from some key operational, day-to-day processes and focus on achieving the bigger picture. When I first reached a breaking point in my journey, I tried listing down the possible causes for it. One of the biggest problems that emerged was that I was still attached to and executing some day-to-day processes I had set up, not because there weren’t better people who could do them – but simply because I was attached to them. In this, not only did I not let my colleagues get the opportunity to execute those tasks and grow beyond their roles, I stagnated myself too.

As important as it is to lay the building blocks, it is also important to let someone else build upon it further.

Seeking Professional Help

I’ve met several entrepreneurs who accept that they’re going through mental health issues but are not willing to meet mental health professionals who could help solve them. The way our society has projected entrepreneurs has been fairly toxic. Either you make it, or you vanish. Go big or go home. What this has also done is created a sense that you’re either someone who has their shit together, or you are a failure. This perception of what an entrepreneur is expected to be has taken more startup lives than bad decision-making. In fact, this perception could very well be the reason why entrepreneurs often take bad funding or hiring decisions, which ultimately lead to the startup suffering.

The need is to break this perception and there are a few ways to do that. I never found it easy to talk to people about my stress and anxieties. A good way for me to solve this was to turn my entire company into a mental health friendly company. Not only did this ensure that employees with mental health issues get to take adequate breaks, and never let work come in the way of therapy – it also gave me an avenue to be more open with my colleagues about my stresses and empathetically understand theirs.

Support Networks

What I think would have really helped my ‘down times’ was if I had access to entrepreneur support networks. Maybe like “Alcoholics Anonymous”? But for entrepreneurs. The support networks need to expand and people who run businesses and those who work with entrepreneurs all need to come together to create a safe space for us to share our work stresses and challenges.

Having a powerful support network can solve several issues entrepreneurs go through.

So here’s what I propose: Let’s start an entrepreneurs support network. As an entrepreneur myself, I’d love to support any entrepreneur who is going through mental health issues or dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety and just wants someone to talk to. I believe that with the right kind of people joining in, we can make a big difference. So here it goes: sign up for the Entrepreneurs Support Network I am starting, and I’ll email you to schedule a call to hear you out – and I hope you’ll do the same for me. Hopefully, this will evolve into a network that meets as well. Are you gonna join in?

Follow me on Youth Ki Awaaz below to keep up with my writing and receive a weekly email digest with my latest posts.

You must be to comment.

More from Anshul Tewari

Similar Posts

By Tuhina Tuhi

By Nandini Dey

By Internshala

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below