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At Techstars, we talk about the mantra ‘founder first’, but being advocates of founders means we can’t only focus on the health of their companies – we must also focus on the health of the founder.

May is Mental Health Awareness month and Techstars is driving to end the stigma that surrounds mental health. Let’s open up the conversation around it and what it means to our community and industry.

When my first son was a teenager, he was challenged with depression and bipolar disorder. During his high school years, May meant the time of year when he really struggled. I found that being open and honest with my friends and family helped me, my son and others.

We encourage everyone to become educated on mental health and important issues around it. To kickoff the month, we put together a list of resources for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from mental health issues, or anyone who wants to learn more about the topic.

Throughout May, you will also be able to find insight on this topic from other founders and mentors on the Techstars blog.

You can’t #givefirst if you don’t put your own health first.

Do you have resources to add that can help others? Let us know here.

Mental Health America: Download this free Mental Health Toolkit and check out these mental health screening tools

AA: International fellowship of people who have had a drinking problem

Al-Anon: Network providing resources, strength and hope for families & friends of problem drinkers

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Locates mental health resources by city

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Ginger.io: A mobile platform with 24/7 care for stress, anxiety, and depression

Mental Health Works: Free monthly publication focused on mental health in the workspace. Includes ideas + tools to successfully implement mental health strategies

Failcon: Conference for startup founders to learn from and prepare for failure, so they can iterate and grow fast

TED Talks: Common TED Talks that focus on the topic of mental health

Fully Rich Life: A free toolkit for 21 ways to reduce stress and anxiety

Founder Stories: Suicide, Entrepreneurship and the Road Home

Female Founders: My startup failed and this is what it feels like

Fortune: Depression and Startups: The Emotional Toil of Entrepreneurship

Wired: One startup’s struggle to survive Silicon Valley’s Gold Rush

ParalignMaking mental well-being data driven, intelligent and personalized

Workit Health: An online addiction care program

TWLOHA: Find a list of local resources and a help hotline 

Koko: Koko offers services that help social networks manage crisis, abuse and bullying.

Crisis Text Line: Free, 24/7 line with trained crisis counselors

Support Groups Central: Video Conference-based Support Groups

Depression Recovery Groups: Support for depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety

SonderMind: Network of over 250 licensed therapists in the Denver-Boulder area

The Founder Institute Or How It Helped Me Stand Up To A Bully: Depression: post about what it was like to be diagnosed, but also how it wasn’t the end of the world… actually, it was the start of a new journey – the best one yet!

ZendyHealth: We can arrange a session with a credentialed, reputable therapist who provides affordable services at a practice near you. Our professionals will work with you to evaluate and develop a treatment plan to help manage your depression and/or anxiety.

Sigmend: Helping employees with brain (mental) disorders self advocate.

Impact Founder: An independent multimedia movement and community to reduce the feelings of isolation experienced in entrepreneurship.

Journey Meditation: Leads guided meditation programs in the workplace in a way that’s simple and approachable.


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Jenny Lawton Jenny Lawton
A long-time tech leader, Jenny Lawton is the COO of Techstars. Previously, she joined littleBits Electronics, Inc., as chief strategy officer (later promoted to COO), and served as interim CEO of MakerBot, a global leader in the 3D printing industry. @jennylawton







  • Manish Panjiar

    Hi Jenny – Thanks for the post and bringing this issue to the front. I am a founder for last 4 years of a startup and have setup a few small business, after being ley go from my last job as an executive. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001 after an episode and was on medication till 2010 – before I worked my way out of it using basics of healthy living. I am very open in sharing my story precisely for the same reason as the problem caused by stigma is as much of an issue as the diagnosis itself – more than happy to share more if it is of help to others who are struggling

    • Throughout May, you will also be able to find insight on this topic from other founders and mentors on the Techstars blog.

  • Pouria Mojabi

    Thanks for this great article.
    Paralign http://paralign.me is also another resource. Making mental well-being data driven, intelligent and personalized

  • Gloria

    Thanks for bringing light to this! Workit Health is an online addiction care program that’s helped many, created by a team of patients as designers. Both founders are women in recovery, and started the company because we believe that there’s a better way to help “the lost and the living.” Also, we work with employers to get the program covered for employees. Workit is a great way to start really breaking down the barriers around addiction and help those who are struggling every day.

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  • Tihana Petricevic

    Hello I’m Tihana Petricevic and I’m CEO and Founder of startup Meridda.com
    We’re techies and primary focus of our work is mental health. I’m glad that you’re trying to lift this negative stigma and that you’re providing support for entrepreneurs in this area as well.

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