Recap: Health Over Hustle — Supporting the Mental Health of Entrepreneurs

Ottawa, ON – December 11, 2020 | COVID-19 has impacted the well-being of many Canadians. A recent report by BDC says that two thirds of entrepreneurs feel tired and un-energetic at least once a week. With the current crisis putting a significant pressure on the shoulders of founders across the country, it is important to support entrepreneurs now more than ever.

On December 10th Startup Canada, BDC, and Futurpreneur hosted the “Health Over Hustle” webinar with the aim of sharing the stories of entrepreneurs who have overcome their struggle with mental health issues. The webinar included an address from Annie Marsolais, BDC’s Chief Marketing Officer, and a panel of entrepreneurs who discussed their challenges with mental health and how they have been working to overcome them. The panel was made up of moderator Mallory Rowan, Theresa Laurico, Erin Blaskie, and Dr. Joaquin Poundja, Psychologist at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute

Annie Marsolais kicked off the webinar, acknowledging the importance of mental health for entrepreneurs and sharing some key statistics. Two years ago BDC conducted the first ever study on Canadian entrepreneurs’ mental health in partnership with CMHA. In this report they found that entrepreneurs were experiencing more mental health issues than the general population. Since then, they have released a new report that surveyed over 500 entrepreneurs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, showing that 39% of Canadian entrepreneurs report feeling depressed at least once a week.

Theresa Laurico, Founder of the SocialLIGHT Conference, and Erin Blaksie, Director of Marketing at Fellow, and Mallory Rowan, Business Coach & Educator are entrepreneurs who have struggled with their mental health but have learned strategies to cope. 

Theresa spoke about the importance of having “real talk” with entrepreneurs. Real talk is about opening up the conversation to see how people are really doing. It is important to have real talk because entrepreneurs take pride in overworking, but don’t often address how it makes them feel. Real talk sparks these conversations about overworking and how it affects mental health. 

She also suggests following her SAVER’s formula in everyday life. SAVER stands for:

  • Silence – Start your day with a silent, calm mind.
  • Affirmations – Think good thoughts and say good things about yourself.
  • Visualization – Picture what you truly want for your life when waking up and before going to sleep.
  • Exercise – Do 30 minutes of exercise per day.
  • Reading – Read each day to calm your mind and learn something new.

She believes these actions will help keep your body physically and mentally healthy.

Erin started her business when she was just 21. There were times she had 75 clients at once and was working 20 hours a day. This caused her to burn out, becoming depressed and reaching her breaking point. Now, she makes sure to take time to herself to avoid burning out.

She spoke about the importance of reaching out for help and having hobbies that are separated from work. To maintain a healthy life, she suggests:

  • Finding hobbies you enjoy, and separating them from work.
  • Creating clear boundaries with your job and co-workers. 
  • Sacred time with family or loved ones.
  • Reaching out for help and allowing others to help you.

With these suggestions, Erin emphasizes the importance of keeping work out of your private life, a difficult task for many entrepreneurs.

Dr. Poundja said that the longer someone neglects their needs, the more stress that will build up. How do you know if you have a build up of stress, called chronic stress, or are developing mental health issues? Dr. Poundja recommends watching for specific red flags like an increase in tiredness or an inability to function at work. To avoid these red flags, he emphasized the need for personal time and acknowledging your own personal limits. 

All panelists agreed that failure is an unavoidable and often large part of being an entrepreneur, especially during a pandemic. To support entrepreneurs we need to celebrate failure and understand that mistakes are alright. 

It is easy to become consumed by work. This is exactly what happened to Theresa and Erin. The best thing to do is to have moments in life that are just for you and to spend time away from work. As Theresa said, your business does not define who you are. 

Take a break. 

Make a mistake. 

It is all part of being an entrepreneur.

To watch the recorded Health Over Hustle webinar, click here.


For more information, and to schedule interviews, please contact:

Lauren Hicks

Media Relations, Startup Canada

(905) 531-1670

About Startup Canada

Startup Canada is Canada’s entrepreneurship organization. Startup Canada promotes and supports the success and growth of Canada’s 3.5 million entrepreneurs, with a mandate to foster economic growth, competitiveness, and prosperity through entrepreneurship. Since launching, Startup Canada’s programming has directly supported more than 200,000 entrepreneurs and 50 grassroots Startup Community organizations. Working with over 750 ecosystem partners, including accelerators, incubators, research parks, educational institutions, economic development agencies, associations, and government programs, Startup Canada serves entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, industries, and stages of development, with a network reflective of Canada’s diverse population. Learn more at

Lauren Hicks
Lauren Hicks

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