Submitted by M.B.
The NEGLECT of Mental Health in Black Business Owners is something that should not be ignored. You are just as valuable as those of a more privileged background.
Being a black business owner, you can’t make any mistakes, or feel like you can’t make any mistakes.
Because truthfully, living in today's world, you are fearful of being “canceled” or a smear campaign ran against you.
Us as buyers, are guilty for not going after big corporations such as Walmart, Kroger, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, & etc. with the same energy we give B.B.O, because it’s so much easier to pick on the little guy. As a B.B.O., you have to be careful what you post, you have to be careful about speaking about your success stories, and all the way down to your milestones. We are taught that it’s in our best interest not to over share as it relates to your business due to not getting as much support as you should. You have those that will congratulate you and those who will want to humble you in the same breath.
What’s even more sad is that as a B.B.O., you make sure that you have top of the line/high quality products just so you don’t receive backlash from customers. This also means finding vendors that will meet budget, marketing goals, and etc. All just to advertise the price you feel that matches the effort put into the product, only for it to be downplayed by the people you make it for. THEN, that ties into “oh that's too much money for the kind of product you’re selling”. Just for that same person to pay DOUBLE from a "more well known" brand.
You have to be PERFECT.
Growing up as African Americans, we are already trying to be perfect. We are groomed to be smarter than the next, more athletic than the next, creating new things better than the next. It's been gradually implanted and passed down for generations because we’ve also been seen less than the next; we are "3/4 of a man".
And I’m here to say you are SEEN.
We are taught about this “stigma” around mental health which makes our people more hesitant when truly seeking the proper resources. We are also taught that if you struggle with mental health issues, that you are not "praying hard enough" or "don’t have strong enough faith."
I’m here to validate the stress and anxiety behind this new/current journey you are on. After having the honor to be a guest speaker to some of the Fall 2022 Cohort at "Corner to Corner Business Academy", I've learned how brave some of you truly are. To my C2C students, you were so brave enough to put in your applications, knowing that is was by random selection and a chance you may not be chosen. But upon acceptance, this new resilience was generated to show you are more than worthy to finish this course and begin your new life. And as you embark on this journey, it’s okay to feel or think: “I’m tired, nothing is going to change”.. but it is.
You will need to learn quickly to set boundaries for personal and work relationships, journal your thoughts and feelings, deep breathing exercises, and truly indulge in self care practices. Navigating your anxiety and depression through a new business is an uphill battle but also a platform for creativity.
But please know when to get help. It can be difficult to know if the emotions you feel are temporary business blues or if they require professional help. If you having high concerns of the general management of your health/wellness amidst high stress, long work hours, as well as navigating your relationships with business partners, venders, etc.; then you may want to seek help because these are some of the things that will contribute to your overall wellness.
If you say yes to any of these while on this new venture as a business owner or even navigating through your daily lifestyle, then you may want a little assistance:
☐ Do you, or others, notice any changes in your day-to-day functioning and mood?
☐ Does it feel hard to get through work days despite being rested?
☐ Are you having trouble focusing or managing relationships?
☐ Are you experiencing difficulty managing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or PTSD?
☐ Are you experiencing difficulty navigating issues related to social justice like racism, ableism, and queerphobia within your business?
If you need assistance finding help, I would love to help you with a few resources that’s fit you and your lifestyle. But for those who aren’t ready for that extra step, and it’s okay not to be, I have some resources for some self care as well. Mind you this isn’t to replace professional help but just to give you an extra boost for your own day to day wellness journey and to avoid that burnout.
To my Corner to Corner students, today is graduation day and I am BEYOND proud of you. I loved watching you grow as a individual and as a business. I can't wait to see you take off!
(Love, Ms. Brown)
If you can relate to this submitted story, comment and share your own #WWHHW moment.