Episode 23: Normalizing Entrepreneur Mental Health Differences with a Leading Researcher in the Field, Dr. Michael Freeman

Jul 11, 2023 | podcast | 0 comments

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You can find the full transcript for this episode at the bottom of this page

Nearly 40% of entrepreneurs have one or more diagnosable mental health condition, 3% of entrepreneurs had made suicide attempts and 1.7% had a history of psychiatric hospitalization. It’s essential that we continue to destigmatize entrepreneur mental health vulnerabilities so that entrepreneurs feel less alone and that treatment options continue to grow.

This week on the show I’m honored to share with you my conversation with a leading researcher on the topic of entrepreneur mental health. Michael A. Freeman, M.D. is a psychiatrist, serial entrepreneur, entrepreneur mental health researcher, and founder of Econa. Econa is an entrepreneur mental health center of excellence that builds scalable mental health and wellbeing solutions for founders.

In this episode you’ll also learn that the very differences that make entrepreneurs more vulnerable to mental health challenges can also be part of their strengths, or according to Dr. Freeman, their “superpowers.” Caring for any mental health vulnerabilities is essential in order to ensure you can leverage these strengths and continue on in the marathon that is entrepreneur life.

In this conversation we cover a wide range of topics related to entrepreneur mental health including what makes the entrepreneur brain unique, for better or for worse, why having empirical research on entrepreneur mental health is so important for shifting the conversation in the larger startup ecosystem and allowing for the advancement of treatment options, and Dr. Freeman’s two step approach for entrepreneurs who want to make sure they’re prioritizing their own mental health and well-being.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • What inspired Dr. Freeman to focus his career on entrepreneur mental health
  • The mental health issues that research suggests are more common amongst entrepreneurs
  • The factors that make entrepreneurs more vulnerable to mental health struggles, as well as the strengths they possess
  • The screening instrument that Dr. Freeman and his team have developed to identify entrepreneurs who are at highest risk for mental health problems
  • Why having research on entrepreneur mental health is so important for shifting the conversation in the larger startup ecosystem and allowing for the advancement of treatment options 
  • Why psychiatric medication management often requires a unique approach when it comes to entrepreneurs 
  • Why it’s important for VCs to ensure the founders in their portfolio have access to mental health services
  • Dr. Freeman’s two step approach for founders who want to prioritize their mental health

Find Dr. Freeman Online:

Resources & Inspiration from the Show

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About Founders’ Fears & Failures and your host, Dr. Melissa Parks

Melissa is an entrepreneur, former therapist (PhD in Clinical & Health Psychology), and an executive coach for entrepreneurs with a special focus on startup founders. Her passion for supporting startup founders in particular began after witnessing firsthand the emotional rollercoaster her husband experienced as a startup co-founder.

She started the Founders’ Fears & Failures podcast with the mission of shining a light on the mental and emotional challenges that come with life as a startup founder. Having lived abroad for 10 years herself she realizes how much we can learn from hearing stories from around the globe which is why the show doesn’t focus on a country-specific startup ecosystem.

Melissa is also the co-founder of the Location Independent Therapist Community, and a mom to a toddler who keeps her on her toes, and fuels her passion for helping to make the world a better place.

If you are interested in coming on the show, please get in touch. We would love to hear your story.

Want to connect further? Get in touch with Melissa on social media:

Want to work with Melissa?

Melissa is a former therapist who provides mindset coaching for ambitious professionals around the globe. Schedule your free discovery call HERE.

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Disclaimer: The Founders’ Fears & Failures is for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not meant to be used for personal health advice and should not be construed to constitute personal or professional consultation or guidance, or to replace medical or mental health treatment. The opinions expressed by this podcast, including the podcast guests, are not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of a medical or mental health provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your medical and/or mental health needs. If you are in crisis, please visit this website to find a list of suicide hotlines around the globe. 

Episode Transcript


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I'm a therapist-turned-coach who loves working with clients around the world! I work with the globally mobile community to support them through transitions as well as entrepreneurs who need support navigating the rollercoaster of entrepreneur life.

I'm also the co-founder of the Location Independent Therapists (LIT) Community, a mom, a self-compassion advocate, and an aspiring author.