Earlier this year, Brad Feld, a prominent Boulder-based venture capitalist wrote a blog post titled Holidays Can Be Hard. The post was written in July, right around the 4th of July holiday weekend, but I think it warrants revisiting his poignant thoughts again now, in another season, during another holiday, which can cause stress and difficulty for so many of us. Feld talks candidly about his own depression and also cites alarming statistics that show that entrepreneurs are almost four times as likely to suffer from depression and to commit suicide than the rest of the American public. Holidays can be particularly difficult for entrepreneurs, he says, because of the immense pressure placed on them to meet goals and deadlines. An entrepreneur who is struggling to meet payroll but can’t close a key contract due to a holiday office closing, is sure to experience anxiety. The pressures that many of us feel around the holidays, relating to money, travel and spending time with family, can become amplified on the lonely path to entrepreneurship.

One Denver-based organization, the Carson J. Spencer Foundation is working hard to provide resources and support for entrepreneurs suffering with mental health disorders. The Foundation has been ahead of the curve in recognizing entrepreneurs as an at-risk group and providing seminars, support groups, and therapy tools to decrease the incidence of depression and suicide within that group. The Foundation also operates an innovative program called The Fire Within: Youth Entrepreneurs Preventing Suicide. This one-of-a-kind program challenges teenagers to put their own entrepreneurial hats on and think critically about the root causes of suicide. The teenagers then develop viable business ideas and innovative entrepreneurial strategies to help decrease the rate of suicide across the general population. Hopefully, these teenagers will learn early that being an entrepreneur does not have to mean walking a lonely road and that holidays don’t always have to be hard. Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, the Carson J. Spencer Foundation provides support for those suffering from depression or experiencing suicidal thoughts. You can read more about the Foundation here: http://www.carsonjspencer.org/programs/fire-within/.