Entrepreneurs and Mental Illness

According to this article in the Toronto Star, entrepreneurs seem to be inclined to developing mental illness. As entrepreneurs ourselves, this headline caught our eye! 

This article highlights the benefits of how some traits of mental illness can be beneficial and enhance skills that are needed to start a business. The author Matt McFarland writes:

"For all of its ills, depression also brings empathy and creativity. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi attempted suicide as teenagers. Uncommon levels of empathy can allow a businessman to better understand a customer’s need. And a creative mind won’t be satisfied on the corporate ladder, but instead in a fast-moving start-up where he or she can unfurl ideas and dreams.

Individuals with ADHD naturally make decisions faster, are comfortable working independently and are more creative, necessary skills at a start-up. They’re likely to be bored working for someone else."

This positive spin on aspects of mental illness is important to highlight. People with mental illness have unique skills and experiences that can be beneficial to many work roles and set them apart from others, in a good way. Here are some more examples we thought of:

- Someone with schizophrenia who has experienced homelessness has experienced adverse and extremely challenging conditions. This can help develop resiliency and excellent problem solving skills.

- Balancing and keeping track of many appointments, medications, self-care and other treatment obligations can be very demanding. The ability to organize a schedule and keep track of all of these can develop time management and organizational skills.

Can you think of any other examples? Please let us know below.

Unfortunately, these positive traits are not often recognized, and stigma makes others think of negative traits first. How can we change this perception and focus first on the positive traits an individual may develop through their experiences with mental illness?