Mental Health and Entrepreneurship in Costa Rica

    An antagonistic situation

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    In recent days I have been debating with the mental health expert Andrea Alvarez about the dilemma between mental health, life balance and entrepreneurship. From my perspective, they are antagonistic to each other.

    We understand mental health as the ability of people to have a life without mental disorders that affect their proper functioning within society, for example, suffering from depression.

    Depression is a disease that affects more young people and adults every day. In simple language, depression is caused by a great chemical imbalance in the brain that gives you the feeling of not wanting to get up in the morning, lose your strength and desire to live and also feel sad.

    In recent years, the subject of mental health has gained great relevance in many discussion forums. This is due to the increasing rates of suicide on the planet and other mental disorders such as anxiety attacks, depression and others that affect people.


    The causes of these disorders are very varied. Some theorists point out that they can even be inherited.But beyond that there are other scholars who justify the environment as the main cause of the situation.

    Currently we spend time very isolated, a lot in front of a screen (cell phone, computer or television). We are experiencing a global health emergency, great social injustices and a society that is increasingly prosperous for some and very limited for others.

    For entrepreneurs

    The above makes me think about whether mental health is part of the basic scheme of issues that an entrepreneur must take into account when starting a business.Let’s be clear: entrepreneurship is not easy. It takes a lot of sacrifice and you have to have mental strength to be successful; If mental strength is not your thing, it is best not to try. I have always said it, rational people do not entrepreneur.

    Entrepreneurship is not rational, it is a passion. It must be a complete obsession, because undertaking successfully involves working with a lot of variability, which generates stress, anxiety. And the feeling of failure (because you will fail from time to time) could arouse depression due to the feeling of defeat.

    But because of the above, only the best can be entrepreneurs. It is not just anyone who can be a leader, negotiator, manager of creating wealth, employment and innovation. Entrepreneurship in a successful way is only for people who seriously turn out to be special, outstanding, unique.

    A person like Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others are people who, although they had an environment prepared to create success, also their mental capacity to handle variability and uncertainty allowed them to create companies with global impact. They are people who were able to cope with defeat, great mind control and vision of the future.

    Not a luxury

    Mental health is not a luxury that an entrepreneur can afford; young people are always deceived by telling them to undertake to be happy, and that is the typical mistake of novice entrepreneurs.

    Entrepreneurship is to create a business with a purpose, and in that operation create capital to reproduce it and achieve wealth; happiness and a feeling of personal fulfillment are by-products of that activity.

    I say this because undertaking involves a commitment. Many times the commitment makes us accept circumstances that we do not like, that are unpleasant and that generate negative feelings.

    Like a marriage

    Entrepreneurship is like a marriage. If you want things to turn out, you have to accept certain situations that one in his right mind would not accept.That is why there is such a high divorce rate, because people are not willing to put marriage on top and that is why they get divorced. The same happens with entrepreneurship: since they do not see quick results, in Costa Rica 42% of them start-ups do not even reach the third month of life.

    Entrepreneurship is a very serious commitment. You have to sacrifice hours of sleep, lose family events, practically cancel yourself as a person and spend permanently solving problems. One almost annuls oneself as a person so that the business grows, if one has the idea of ​​taking it seriously the business and not as a pass.

    I always believed that by maturing and having my business I would be able to hire the best people or have professional clients, I aspired to be able to have stability in my life. The reality is that it is the opposite.

    Employees always cause problems, clients do not appreciate your value many times and every day things are changing due to competition, the market, regulations and other endless variables that must be managed.

    Taking business seriously

    When an entrepreneur takes his business seriously, there is no time to get depressed, fall into crisis or have doubts. Your business is first because you have to meet customers, bring money to pay payroll and meet your employees with payments and, finally, see if something is left for the business owner.

    Andrea Álvarez told me that mental health is vital because if the business owner is not well, the business is not well either. Therefore, she recommends:

    • Make a planning of all possible actions to reduce variability
    • Seeking personal help in a preventive way: psychologists is a good tool
    • Seek external support from the company for change management

    An entrepreneur never has it easy, so seeking help early can save you in future personal and business pain.

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    1. Very good article.

      I am a British expat living in playa grande. I am a mental health professional working with homelessness children aged between 16 to 25. Suicide, self harm and different forms of depression are sometimes missed as some individuals mask issues from the friends and family.

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