With World Mental Health Day upon us, we wanted to talk openly once again about mental health and the challenges many of us will feel as agency founders and directors.

When you’re running your own business, there’s a lot at stake. The more successful you are the more people depend on you; the buck stops with you. That’s a lot of pressure for your mind and your body to take. Not to mention the constant imposter syndrome, and the pressure of high expectations we always have of ourselves and our work.

And we’re in a bloody pandemic too aren’t we! While also trying to run a business. It’s no wonder that our mental health is now under more pressure than ever.

Mental health is an issue close to our hearts – here at the Agency Collective we champion transparency, honesty and authenticity about our wellbeing as founders. Running a business is one of the most challenging things you will do in your lifetime – you spend so long looking after other people during the course of your business (your clients, your team, your co-founder, your family) – but when do you prioritise the time to look after yourself? 

We talk a lot about mental health at the Agency Collective. In fact, members can catch up on TAC101 with Louisa Pau’s session (recognising healthy vs unhealthy stress), and a panel session from last year featuring Dominic McGregor, co-founder of Social Chain; Mel Cox, HQ Therapy Rooms; and James Routledge co-founder of Sanctus.

It was a post in our Slack channel this week which made us stop in our tracks.

“Feeling absolutely emotionally and physically exhausted at the moment and just realised I'm telling everyone I'm fine. I’m not. I am struggling to keep my head above water and I don’t know what to do."

AnonAgency Collective member

This post really hit close to home – it also sparked off an overwhelming response of support, camaraderie and compassion from other Agency Collective members. It was incredible to see, and we are truly humbled and grateful for those who took the time to reply so thoughtfully. Thank you all for being amazing human beings (you know who you are!).

And another wonderful thing – the original post was from a male agency owner, and 90% of the replies were also from men. We feel incredibly humbled and proud of these guys – thankfully not giving in to all the BS and pressure on men not to articulate their feelings, and instead being emotionally open, honest and sharing experiences to provide support to the original post.

Some hugely useful tips and ways forward came out of the discussion, which we’ve summarised here for anybody feeling the same way:

  1. Vocalise it. Become self-aware of the challenges you are facing, and say it out loud to people who you trust.
  2. Think practically – what can you change to start managing things here and there? For example, is looking after young children at home while running a business just too much sometimes – can you invest in a couple of hours of childcare a week? Or hire a part-time assistant to help take the load off you?
  3. Figure out what it is that helps you to recharge. This isn’t easy. Give yourself the headspace to work out what it is, and make sure you have factored it into your schedule.
  4. Decide what it is you want to put your energy in to today – and follow it through.
  5. BREATHE. Look away from your screen, take some deep breaths – you’d be amazed at how calm inducing this can be. 

And finally…


It’s easy to overlook and think of yourself as a super important agency owner with a million things to do – and it’s all on you, right? 

Well – it’s not all on you. Share the load – seek support, invest your time and energy into your own wellbeing, and look after yourself so you can truly be the best version of yourself for your family, your business and those around you.

We want to empower anybody experiencing struggles with their mental health to vocalise it and seek support. The World Mental Health Day website has some fantastic resources – if you’re struggling then please do check them out and take those valuable next steps in looking after yourself. 

If you’re a member of the Agency Collective and need support – let us know, or let the community know, and we’ll be there to back you every step of the way.

The Agency Collective

The Agency Collective

A peer support community for agency owners. A safe place to talk about your challenges openly – when you need the help most. An opportunity for you to build new long lasting relationships with people who can provide support and leads for future work.