Indian entrepreneur community needs more support for mental health initiatives: Krishna Veer Singh, Lissun
The co-founder of Lissun shares how they are taking care of the mental well-being of students and entrepreneurs through their AI-driven mental health care platform.
Bhoomika Singh April 17, 2023
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Entrepreneurship is often considered an exciting and rewarding career choice. However, the reality of entrepreneurship is often far from glamorous. Entrepreneurs face immense pressure, stress, and uncertainty on a daily basis, which can take a toll on their mental well-being. This is particularly true in India, where entrepreneurship is on the rise, but mental health awareness is still relatively low.
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), nearly 50 per cent of the entrepreneurs in India experience some form of mental health issue. The study revealed that the entrepreneurs in India are at a higher risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders due to factors such as financial insecurity, long working hours, and social isolation.
In light of these findings, there is a growing need for mental health support services for the entrepreneurs in India. This is where mental health start-ups like Lissun come into play.
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SME Futures spoke to the Co-Founder and CEO of Lissun, Krishna Veer Singh to understand the importance of the mental well-being of entrepreneurs and how to keep that at an optimal level.
What inspired you to launch a mental health start-up?
In India, mental health is one of those taboo subjects that no one wants to discuss openly. Despite the realisations that the pandemic has brought, people are still reluctant to accept that, at times, support is required to maintain mental wellness.
We ourselves had experienced various forms of stress and mental health challenges in our lives and realised that we needed to do something about it. We saw an opportunity to provide people with the kind of services and guidance that is urgently needed in this sphere. That’s how Lissun was born.
According to your experience, what are the most common mental health issues faced by the entrepreneurs in India?
Entrepreneurs are often viewed as inspirational and appealing figures—symbolising determination, enthusiasm, and success. However, the various challenges in their businesses and operations that they have to deal with which include disagreements in vision, disagreements with their business partners, retaining senior management, their responsibilities towards their employees, building the next line of leadership, the fear of failure, maintaining a work-life balance, and personal stressors, never come into the limelight. This leads to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, frustration, and other mood disorders among entrepreneurs.
How important is mental health for entrepreneurs, and what kind of impact does it have on their businesses?
Entrepreneurship brings multiple challenges like very hectic schedules, high stress, lack of sleep etc., leading to mental health issues. So, if the mind of an entrepreneur which is the key to their personal and professional development, suffers, it can have an impact on them directly as well as negatively impact their businesses too.
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On the business side, it could lead to burnout and mood disorders which can result in their relationships at work getting affected, difficulties in concentrating and them being unable to give their best. Mental health issues can have an impact on entrepreneurs’ lives outside of their businesses as well, such as on their family lives, their relationships, and their overall health and happiness.
What are some of the main reasons behind the lack of attention paid to the mental health of the entrepreneurial community of India?
Mental health is one of those topics in India that nobody wants to talk about in the open. Also, the level of awareness in the country about mental health issues and their symptoms is very low. As a result, more than 80 per cent of the people who suffer from these issues never get diagnosed or treated. In the business community, the idea of “hustle culture” is fuelled by impression management where we consciously or subconsciously attempt to influence the perception that other people have of us.
Due to many industry leaders constantly posting on social media about how hard they work; many entrepreneurs feel that they should also be constantly working, going over and above their colleagues as far as hard work goes. This makes most entrepreneurs neglect their mental health and accepting it publicly in the male-dominated business community is viewed as a sign of weakness.
What are the challenges that you have faced while attempting to raise mental health awareness in the Indian entrepreneurial community, and how have you overcome them?
The challenges are more on the acceptance side than on the awareness side. In addition to acceptance, prioritising the time for these activities is also essential. We try to overcome this in primarily two ways. We conduct extensive screening so that a person can gauge their current mental health state. And secondly, we become a logical part of their routines. We have devised programmes through which we conduct diagnostics/screenings for mental health issues to evaluate where a person lies on different scales. And then we weave our programme as seamlessly as possible into their lifestyles to enhance their quality of life.
Corporates and start-ups are going through a lay-off season. How should one deal with it?
Many enterprises are facing ongoing layoffs due to various reasons such as economic downturns, shifts in consumer behaviour, and changes in industry trends. Dealing with these ongoing layoffs can be a difficult and stressful experience not only for those who have been laid off but also for those who remain in the workplace.
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Entrepreneurs can deal with the ongoing layoffs by diversifying their revenue streams, cutting costs, communicating transparently with their employees, seeking support from their mentors and peers and by remaining agile and adaptable to the changes in the industry and the economy. Besides that, entrepreneurs need to set an example for their employees by staying positive, upbeat and focused on their work. They should demonstrate to their employees that they are in control of themselves and their emotions. They should not buy into the rumour mill and instead look for opportunities to grow and bounce back.
At the same time, during a layoff period, organisations should prioritise transparent communication with their employees about the reasons behind the layoffs and the steps that are being taken to support them during the transition. Offering support services such as career counselling and job placement assistance, can help employees to find new opportunities and ease their financial burdens.
Providing compensation packages and continuing health benefits can also be beneficial.
It’s critical for organisations to maintain a positive company culture and invest in the development and growth of their remaining employees. Legal compliance with all the requirements, including notice and anti-discrimination laws, is crucial. By taking proactive steps to support their employees during a layoff, organisations can minimise the impact on the employees and maintain a positive reputation.
What steps can entrepreneurs take to improve their mental health, and what are some common misconceptions about mental health that they should be aware of?
Entrepreneurs can improve their mental well-being by prioritising self-care. Making time for regular exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep can help reduce stress, boost mood, and increase resilience. Additionally, setting boundaries, seeking support, practising mindfulness, and taking breaks is even more important.
Common misconceptions about mental health include the belief that it’s a sign of weakness, that it’s permanent, that it only affects certain people, and that it’s uncommon. It’s crucial for entrepreneurs to address these misconceptions and prioritise their mental health to manage stress, improve their well-being, and achieve success.
How does your start-up aim to address the mental health needs of the entrepreneurs in India, and what kind of services do you offer?
LISSUN is a full-stack emotional and mental wellness platform. It helps individuals to live a better quality of life by providing comprehensive wellness programmes, in-house quality therapists, access to user communities, self-help and virtual tools powered by AI and machine learning. This is done via various platforms such as apps, websites, phone support, and physician clinics. Our app is free to download, and the self-help tools, tests, and programmes are prepared by certified experts.
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Anyone can avail of them free of cost for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Whenever needed by any of our clients, LISSUN connects them with professional therapists, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists. For an entrepreneur, the first step would be accepting the fact that they need help and reaching out. Once they reach out to us, our team will create a very contextual wellness programme for them which can help them to manage their issues as well as give them the tools that will help them in their day-to-day lives.
Do you think there is a need for more government and corporate support for mental health initiatives for India Inc? If so, what kind of initiatives would you like to see?
There is a need for more government and corporate support for mental health initiatives for the Indian entrepreneurial community. These initiatives could include providing mental health resources, raising awareness, creating peer support networks, offering financial support, and providing flexibility in work hours and workloads. These initiatives will not only create a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs to thrive in but will also help to boost the wider Indian economy as a whole.