Colorado Entrepreneurs Mental Health Network launched Friday to address mental health issues in startups

AJ Cohen speaks during Mental Health in the Startup Scene at Denver Startup Week. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
AJ Cohen speaks during Mental Health in the Startup Scene at Denver Startup Week. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
AJ Cohen speaks during Mental Health in the Startup Scene at Denver Startup Week. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Colorado Entrepreneurs Mental Health Network, a new mental health resource for Colorado-based entrepreneurs, launched over the weekend.

The website,, offers free counseling via phone, chat and text to startup and tech innovation employees suffering from anxiety, depression and suicidal impulses.

The resource is a collaborative effort among several major players in Colorado’s startup community, including  AJ Cohen, an industry connector; Brad Feld of Foundry Group; Kristin Darga of Impact Founder; Dave Mayer of Technical Integrity; Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO and co-Founder of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation; and the Second Wind Fund.

“We wanted to provide a resource that looks and feels like the startup community,” cofounder AJ Cohen said.

The entrepreneurial community has a deep connection with mental health disorders.

Entrepreneurs are at greater risk for mental health issues than the general public, according to a study conducted by University of California, San Francisco clinical professor Dr. Michael Freeman. Freeman’s findings are preliminary and have not yet been peer-reviewed. The study is currently being replicated on a greater scale to validate and extend the findings, Freeman said.

The study surveyed 242 entrepreneurs. Of them, 49 percent reported suffering from a mental health condition. Depression was most common, affecting about 30 percent, followed by ADHD, which affected 29 percent and anxiety, affecting 27 percent.

To put that in perspective, only about 7 percent of the U.S. identify as depressed, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More broadly, Colorado ranks fifth in the nation for suicide, according to data from 2014 compiled by the American Association of Suicidology. And a 2016 report by the Colorado Health Foundation showed that Colorado’s suicide rate, 19.4 per 100,000 in 2014, is rising.

Cohen said the Colorado Entrepreneurs Mental Health Network is one answer to this growing problem. The network creates a community in attempts to draw attention to and normalize mental health issues.

“We are collaborating mindfully to show that daily mental health care is equivalent to routine physical maintenance,” he said.

Colorado Entrepreneurs Mental Health Network, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, makes use of a pre-existing network of counselors through the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Crisis Line and MINES and Associates.

Behavioral health and business psychology firm MINES and Associates will be offering free counseling to startups with five or fewer employees when they sign up through Colorado Entrepreneurs Mental Health Network.

Cohen announced the endeavor during a panel on Tuesday of Denver Startup Week, in company with co-founders Darga and Mayer. The website went live over the weekend and COEMHN has since been focusing on beefing up its collection of sponsors with companies familiar to the startup community.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at or

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