Nick Corneil, the founder and CEO of Trainer+, says startup founders at the DMZ experience a different kind of stress. (Image by Amira Zubairi)

With high workplace stress levels and failure being a common trend for startups, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some entrepreneurs are likely to experience a strain on their mental health.

To help entrepreneurs take better care of their emotional and mental well-being, Ryerson’s DMZ has announced a partnership with the online therapy platform TranQool to provide DMZ-based entrepreneurs and their staff with mental health services.  

The DMZ is the first Canadian business incubator to offer these services and is hoping other incubators will follow its lead in coming months.

“As the startup community grows, it’s important to not only build awareness to help break the stigma around mental health conditions, but also to provide the resources that can help entrepreneurs and their staff build strategies to better cope with the elements of startup life,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director at the DMZ.

TranQool, which connects clients to online therapists, will work with the DMZ to match entrepreneurs with accredited counsellors whom the entrepreneurs will be able to speak with through secure video calls. Startup founders and their staff will have access to two free sessions, courtesy of the DMZ, and receive a 20 per cent discount off of subsequent sessions, which usually costs about $80.

According to TranQool’s CEO Chakameh Shafii, entrepreneurs often self-identify that they have mental distress, specifically depression, stress and burnout because of their overbearing workloads.

(Amira Zubairi)

Entrepreneurs at the DMZ will be able to use TranQool’s mental health services at a time that fits their schedules. (Image by Amira Zubairi)

But they tend to avoid addressing their concerns or don’t have access to people who can help them.

“A lot of times, we [entrepreneurs] actually hide ourselves in the work that we do and avoid the reality of life by working extra hours,” said Shafii. “These are things we need to actually deal with. So what people can do with using products like counselling is that you get to talk to a person who is unbiased about your life. They walk you through learning strategies and coping skills that in the long term will help you make better decisions and manage your stress and anxiety better.”

With TranQool’s online services, entrepreneurs will have the flexibility to book sessions according to their own schedules. Nick Corneil, an entrepreneur at the DMZ says having access to online mental health services is not only an efficient way to help entrepreneurs cope with stress, but is also a step towards removing the stigma around mental health in the startup community.

“The reality of being an entrepreneur and being under all this stress makes it really hard for us to take time for ourselves,” said Corneil, who launched Trainer+, a fitness history and planning tool for trainers and gyms.  “We live in a world where we try to be as effective and as efficient as everything. So I think having a program like this which is really easy for us to access is an effective solution.”



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