French Bosses Struggle to deal with Pressure

President E. Macron

President Macron is trying to make France a more business-friendly nation.

As reports, that may require spotlighting the resources available to business owners who are struggling with mental health issues.

Some people who answer the president's call to be entrepreneurial may not know how to cope when things are difficult. Executives are often afraid to ask for help because they are afraid it makes their business unattractive to employees or investors.

According to the Apesa association, "We are tempted to ignore the CEO, associated to an image of invulnerability and who has the mission to take care of the employees."

Apesa was founded by employees in France's commercial courts. As they watched business owners succumb to despair during the 2008 financial crisis, they realized there was a need for an organization to educate executives and entrepreneurs about mental health.

It is estimated that hundreds of small business owners in France commit suicide every year.

Apesa partners with the Centre d’Information sur la Prévention des difficultés des entreprise (CIP) to set up meetings between struggling business owners and professionals like lawyers and accountants. observed a meeting between the owner of a struggling construction company and an accountant, lawyer, and retired commercial court judge. The professionals talked the business owner through the best way to restructure his company.

There are about 60 CIP centers in France and they served 3,000 business owners in 2016.

William Nahum, who founded the first CIP, said the organization's services are usually used by "heads of small companies, who are alone and don't have any resources."

Christopher Woodley took advantage of CIP's resources and was able to save his business.

"They have competent people who look at things in a completely neutral and objective manner," he said.

Apesa has been partnering with CIP for two years. Apesa trains CIP volunteers to look for signs that a business owner might be suffering from depression or another illness. CIP is an ideal partner for Apesa because CIP's model stresses the importance of nonjudgmental interaction with the business owners.

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