Mind games

6 May 2021

This week: Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s been a sanity-testing time, for all of us. How are entrepreneurs faring?

Mind games


May Day – a sign of spring, or a distress signal. (A lil’ French lesson for y’all: M’aidez = Help me!)

• More than a half of entrepreneurs in the UK deemed the past year the most stressful ride of their careers, with more than a third turning to professional counselling for their mental health. In countries around the world, the majority of entrepreneurs reported experiencing good emotional support, and being able to find a shoulder to lean on. “If 2020 did one positive thing, it lessened the stigmas around mental illness and encouraged people to seek guidance,” wrote Kayleigh Barber in Digiday.

• King’s Business School just published a report on the impact the pandemic has had on entrepreneurs’ mental health. “Entrepreneurs are the backbone of the global economy, but it is only recently that we are starting to take their mental health seriously,” said Ute Stephan, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Lead Researcher. “We are encouraged to see that UK entrepreneurs are amongst the top rated for psychological resilience alongside Australia, USA and Sweden.” (The Brits, they just get on with it).

• “Loneliness is rapidly becoming as big an issue as the Covid-19 pandemic itself,” said Ben Towers, another young entrepreneur who launched Tahora – a mental health app connecting employees with colleagues who live nearby. Downloads of mental health apps increased 200% in England last year. One out of every five Americans expect to use more of these digital health tools in the coming months to address a range of concerns – whether it’s seeking to alleviate returning-to-the-office anxiety or relearning how to socialise in person.

The light at the end of the tunnel? Since the start of 2021, nearly half of people globally say their mental health has improved since the start of 2021, with 59% expecting the world to be back to something like “normal” within the next year.

We never thought we’d say this, but normal sounds pretty good.


Isolation is linked to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. (I mean, it’s literally a torture technique).

As society reopens, will we finally get some relief?

• After a year of seeing next to no one, we’re gonna need some new spaces to hang out. “People are so eager to connect with new people. I feel like it’s a good time for new life to enter [into retail],” said Dauphinette founder Olivia Cheng, who opened her first store in NYC’s West Village last month. Emily Adams Bode just took over a neighbourhood coffee shop in the Lower East Side for her Bode Tailor Shop, where patrons can get fitted for a new suit, bring hole-y sweaters to mend, and chat over a cup of Joe. “The history of this neighbourhood revolves around the apparel industry… it would be great to be able to bring that tradition back,” said Emily. (For a brand that’s all about reworking vintage, we’re also feeling nostalgic about the pop-up Bode launched with us in Miami back in the day).

• We know that good design is, well, good. But it also plays a huge role in supporting mental health – especially for city dwellers. That bleak feeling you get when you see a long block of sameness? You’re not alone: Unchanging facades actually trigger negative thoughts. We all want a diverse, accessible, and well-designed high street – and that has a direct impact on improving the mental health of local communities, according to Public Health England.

• And what about the state of cities? UK businesses are bracing for a summer “boom” – with footfall surging and life returning to the streets. That urban exodus that everyone has been banging on about? Turns out, it’s a myth. “I think people are going to flock to New York City, because they want to live again,” said Mayor Bill De Blasio, who announced a full reopening by July 1.

“Every time I go out, it’s mad how many people are there,” an excited New Yorker told Bloomberg.

Being alone for so long has definitely left us all feeling weird. Being back in the comfort of a crowd sounds like a dream we don’t want to wake up from.

Surrounded by a million faces, in brand-new places – it’s a mad world.

Words by Amy Tai, creative consultant and native New Yorker now based in London.