Life can feel like a nonstop test of endurance for entrepreneurs. Driven by passion and ambition, business owners frequently find themselves navigating a delicate balance between chasing their dreams and managing the overwhelming demands of their ventures. Sara Williams is no exception. Confronting her own burnout-induced health crisis, Sara’s journey encapsulates the universal struggle of balancing professional dedication with personal well-being. 

With a master’s degree in business administration, a background in healthcare leadership, and a fervent dedication to mental health advocacy, Sara seized the opportunity to bring it all together on an entrepreneurial journey. In 2018, Sara founded Compassion Mental Health in Bartlett. “Mental health had been in the healthcare circuit but not necessarily popular in the mainstream.” She notes, “At that time, there were still many stigmas surrounding mental health, and much of the care available then focused on severe mental illness.” In the wake of the pandemic, this social faux pas underwent a dramatic transformation, and after seeing the demand for mental health care skyrocket, they remained open. 

“I was working a hundred hours week after week. We wanted to serve everyone we could. There was so much hurt.” She eventually worked herself 

into her own health crisis. In 2022, she began experiencing severe pain in her body. Her eventual diagnosis of postherpetic neuralgia, a complication of shingles, made sense due to her stress levels. To cope, Sara began focusing on her physical fitness and nutrition. “I became serious about taking care of myself. I started going to the gym, getting enough sleep, and began weight training in 2023 with a heavy focus on proper nutrition.” What began as a recovery from shingles improved her physical and mental health. 

Although she was still busy growing her organization, Sara noted that her energy, focus, and mood improved. Wanting to help others around her, she began incorporating physical fitness into the mental health care model that her organization had so successfully established. Building an internal culture of wellness, she sponsors gym memberships for her employees, and they participate in monthly group challenges. “At the end of each month, we celebrate those employees who have set and achieved personal fitness goals.” 

Her mental health practice applies the concept of mind/body healing, and her clients are provided with tools and resources to improve mental and physical health through exercise and nutrition. “It’s a bit of an unconventional approach, but we have seen a lot of success,” she admits. 

Compassion Mental Health will begin sponsoring weekend wellness retreats in Fall 2024. The retreats will focus on fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness techniques and aim to help attendees live happier and healthier lives. In the coming months, their website,, will provide additional information and registration instructions. 

Sara truly embodies a lead-by-example approach and has been able to create a safe, healing space. Having experienced the tumultuous grind, she empathetically cares about those she serves with a deep-rooted conviction for untethered access to mental health care. She openly proclaims, “It’s not about how much you can endure but how gracefully you can rise from each fall.” 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an important opportunity to prioritize mental health, promote self-care, and advocate for improved access to mental health services for everyone. If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing thoughts of suicide, it’s important to seek help immediately by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available. 

By Amanda Tompkins 

Photo by Brooke Simpson