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Professional burnout – a problem that startups are dealing with

From a survey we conducted on LinkedIn, it’s clear that they do. As many as 82% of those asked said they had experienced job burnout. Slightly more optimistic are the results of a survey conducted by Polish startup Mindgram. They show that 60% of Poles have experienced professional burnout. However, the fact that during the pandemic as many as 2/3 of them noticed an intensification of symptoms can be alarming.

Who suffers from burnout?

What is more, burnout is not only the domain of employees as it may seem. Entrepreneurs also suffer from it, which is too rarely mentioned.

– Anyone whose work requires a high level of emotional, social, or cognitive engagement is at risk for burnout. Most entrepreneurs meet all these criteria. On top of that there are irregular working hours, great responsibility for the success of the business, external pressure and constant stress – says Kaja Toczyska, a psychologist and co-founder of TwojPsycholog.pl.

In the case of professional burnout, the so-called individual factors are also important, e.g. whether someone is a perfectionist, suffers from anxiety disorders or treats business as a passion. According to my interlocutor, all these factors can contribute to burnout to a greater or lesser extent.

Feeling burned out? How can you help yourself?

If you’re struggling with professional burnout yourself, I encourage you to get help from a professional first, and second, to read our #OcaleniWypaleni article series, where you’ll find stories from people who have experienced professional burnout, as well as inspiring information on how to deal with it.

– Some of the time, most startups balance on the edge of burnout, and so do I. What helps me the most is to make sure I take breaks during my work, and spend as much time as possible on the weekend doing activities that relax me. I also use psychological support in difficult moments, which helps me look at things from a new perspective and look for ways to reduce stress. I also try to remember that it is just normal that motivation and passion decrease or increase depending on the period”, says Kaja Toczyska.

So what does she recommend to those struggling with professional burnout?

  1. Look for the cause and think about how work looks/performs.
  2. Give yourself time to relax.
  3. Divide responsibilities and, for example, find a co-founder with whom it will be easier to run the business.
  4. Don’t wait to see a specialist because burnout can develop into other, more complex problems, such as depressive disorders.

Market

Professional burnout is first and foremost a problem. But if we were to look at it through the eyes of entrepreneurs, we would look at the market and see opportunities as well. This is evidenced by the number of people struggling with mental disorders and the growing interest of VC funds in mental health startups.

Back in February 2021, Crunchbase noticed this. According to the service, $382 million was invested in 49 mental health startups in 2016. The breakthrough was in 2020. At that time, 69 deals totaling $932 million were completed. And we’re only talking about the United States. Growing VC interest in mental health startups is also evident in our market.

According to PFR Ventures and Inovo Venture Partners, 379 deals worth PLN 3.6 billion were made in the Polish venture capital market in 2021, which is an increase of 1.5 billion compared to 2020. Interestingly, the largest share of last year’s transactions was made by startups from the healthtech sector, and therefore also those dealing with mental disorders. They accounted for 14% of all deals, and one of the highest funding rounds was closed with Infermedica (PLN 120 million).

While the exact number of startups that operate in the mental health segment is not known to me, I can certainly point to 5 startups in this segment that are worth watching.

  1. Mindgram – a well-being platform whose creators have already raised over 40 million PLN for its development, including 7 million Euros in April this year. Besides Poland, Mindgram is developing in Spain and intends to enter the market in Latin America.
  2. HearMe – a platform that offers employees psychological support online. So far, its creators have raised about 400 thousand euros, which we talked to Kasia Gryzło (CEO of HearMe) about in December 2021.
  3. Therapify – a platform for booking appointments with a psychologist or psychiatrist. I had a chance to talk to one of the founders of Therapify -Łukasz Pstrong – when I was working on the article Are failures an element of business credibility or do they indicate a lack of business resourcefulness? I asked the founders for their opinion.
  4. WellBee – a platform to connect with mental health professionals. In June 2021 WellBee raised PLN 1.4 million.
  5. Helping Hand – a platform thanks to which users can anonymously access, among others, over 100 educational videos and articles created by psychologists and licensed therapists. Last year Helping Hand raised PLN 3 million.

PS. Today at 3 p.m. on Radio 357, there will be another edition of the program’s broadcast entitled Firmament. This time the host and his guests will talk about professional burnout.

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