Mental Health and Stress Management in the Startup Ecosystem

February 2024 | Read Time: 5 mins
Posted by Visual Abstract | Author: Celine Choukair
In an era characterized by constant change and digital acceleration, our team at Visual Abstract (VA) is committed to placing mental health at the forefront of our corporate culture.As a startup specializing in transforming scientific texts into graphic summaries, we understand the immense significance that mental well-being holds for the productivity and creativity of our team.
The fourth pillar of our vision is encapsulated in the motto “Enjoy the Journey and Stay Healthy.” From the outset, we have established structures aimed not only at achieving business goals but also at promoting the well-being of each team member. Stress and burnout diminish performance and well-being. Effective prevention and support are essential to combat these effects.
Burnout, defined as a state of exhaustion due to prolonged work-related stressors (Kersten and Formazin, 2021), and stress, a ubiquitous phenomenon in diverse contexts (Neuner, 2016), require our active attention and proactive management.
A Review of the Mind Matters! Festival 2024
Building upon our vision, VA launched the Mental Health Festival in 2023 and this year, on January 16, 2024, hosted the second Mind Matters! Corporate Mental Health Festival in collaboration with Techniker Krankenkasse and Mentalport at the CUBEX-Hub in Mannheim. The event aimed to raise awareness about mental health in the workplace and provide practical solutions for the challenges of modern work life.
We aimed to bridge the gap between employees and companies, to collectively find ways to enhance workplace well-being and strengthen the relationship between both parties.

The event was complemented by inspiring keynotes, interactive workshops, and the Market of Opportunities (a small fair where startups operating in the field of mental health could showcase themselves).

Investing in Mental Health at Startups: In her keynote, Céline Choukair (Head of Marketing, CSR, and Employee Wellbeing at VA) introduced how mental health was established as a central pillar of our company vision from the outset and how this shapes our daily actions.
In our efforts to promote the well-being of our employees, we have taken five essential measures:
1. Weekly Meditation Sessions: Free and easily accessible, they provide a simple way to relax.

2. Mental Health Day: Breaking the stigma around mental health and emphasizing the importance of self-care.

3. Health Promotion: With massage offerings and gym memberships, we strengthen both physical and mental health.

4. Anonymous Suggestion Box and Open-Door Concept: We encourage open communication and provide space for anonymous feedback.

5. Research and Collaboration: By collaborating with Mentalport and conducting risk assessments, we identify risks and develop preventive strategies. Regular quantitative and qualitative interviews help us continuously improve our approaches.
Our well-being measures are also achievable on a small budget but require leadership that leads by example and listening. Diversity and individual approaches shape our path. Despite low costs, it requires time and commitment. A designated point of contact ensures its firm integration into everyday life.
Summary of the Keynotes and Panel-Discussions at the Mental Health Festival
We were privileged to host a lineup of insightful speakers who shared invaluable perspectives on cultivating well-being in the workplace.
Key Insights:
Future of the Workplace: Tim Kleber, CEO and Co-Founder of Mentalport GmbH, underscored the pivotal role of mental health in driving productivity and innovation within companies. He advocated for the integration of mental well-being into work routines through flexible models and designated spaces for mental breaks.  

Success Factor Health: Dr. Caroline Marker, a psychologist and consultant, provided compelling evidence of how prioritizing employee health not only enhances individual well-being and job satisfaction but also yields tangible benefits for the organization. Her discussion highlighted the importance of leadership in fostering a culture of mindfulness and transparent dialogue around mental health.

Workshop with Nina Gösele and Panel Discussion “Beyond Burnout”: Nina Gösele led an engaging workshop, supported by Techniker Krankenkasse, which offered practical exercises aimed at stress reduction and mindfulness cultivation. Following this, a panel discussion, featuring industry experts including our Co-Founder Dr. Benito Campos, Marion Lüdke (Co-Founder and CEO, Lüdke + Döbele GmbH), Tim Kleber (Co-Founder & CEO, Mentalport), explored strategies for building resilience in the workplace.
Key takeaways included the significance of support networks, continuous learning, and establishing an environment of open communication. These insights underscore the critical importance of prioritizing mental health in the workplace, not only for individual well-being but also for organizational success. To delve deeper into the discussions, you can listen to the panel discussion directly on Spotify (German).
At Visual Abstract, promoting mental health remains a central concern of our corporate philosophy. We believe that a healthy work environment is key to creativity, innovation, and ultimately success. We are grateful to our co-organizers, speakers, and all participants for their contributions and look forward to the next Mind Matters! in Mannheim.
Sources:
1. Kersten, N., & Formazin, M. (2021). Arbeitsbedingungen und Burnout im Längsschnitt der „Studie zur mentalen Gesundheit bei der Arbeit (S-MGA)“.

2. Neuner, R. (2016). Psychische Gesundheit bei der Arbeit. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.
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