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RailsConf 2017 - Supporting Mental Health as an Effective Leader

86c8c60c6db26b2fc7c5bf00a2c382af?s=47 Jesse James
April 26, 2017

RailsConf 2017 - Supporting Mental Health as an Effective Leader

RailsConf 2017 - Leadership at all Levels track


Jesse James

April 26, 2017


  1. Suppor&ng Mental Health as an Effec&ve Leader Jesse James @marginalchaos

    (on basically everything)
  2. What are we going to cover? What the problem is

    What we’re doing about it now Why I’m here What we can do about it Remote versus On-Site Tips & Responsibili&es for Managers and Individuals
  3. Thank you… …to J.C., a woman who’s friendship, support, love,

    and encouragement helped me discover who I truly am and what I could become.
  4. Who am I? •  Marine Corps veteran •  Developer Advocate

    for SparkPost •  Weight liSer •  Dog and Cat lover (CORGIS) •  Portland, Oregon •  He/Him/His pronouns Zombies are preWy awesome too…
  5. What is the problem? •  There’s been a 24% increase

    in suicides over 1994-2016 (CDC) •  18.5% of US adults experience mental illness per year (NIMH) •  1 in 25 of US adults suffer from a serious, life limi&ng mental illness per year (NIMH) •  Depression is predicted to be responsible for more days of missed work and produc&vity than any other illness. (WHO)
  6. What are we doing? NOT ENOUGH.

  7. What are we doing? Open Sourcing Mental Illness (OSMI) 2016

    Survey: •  61% of employees didn’t know what MH benefits were available •  71% of current employers never formally discussed MH •  74% of employees either didn’t know about MH assistance available or weren’t provided resources •  Over 50% either weren’t sure or wouldn’t discuss MH with coworkers •  Over 70% of previous employers never formally discussed MH •  31% wouldn’t bring up a physical health issue with a poten&al employer •  62% wouldn’t bring up a mental health issue with a poten&al employer.
  8. Why am I here? •  PTSD •  Anxiety •  Depression

    In short… I’ve seen the issues from both sides of the leadership fence with the lens of having mental health illness myself.
  9. What can we do? There is NO “one size fits

    all” approach What works in an on-site/in-person team may not work for remote/hybrid situa&ons Work with HR, but don’t be afraid to take steps outside their control. (ymmv…) You have to be… •  Empathe&c •  Proac&ve •  Willing to take the “hit” •  Open to communica&on •  Able to set aside ego •  Pa&ent
  10. A Systems Approach Key Things: •  Anonymity is good, but

    non-anonymous op&ons are useful too •  No repercussions, no one should be punished or judged for seeking help/support •  Easy to find, easy to use •  Freedom to change the system if it doesn’t work
  11. On-Site •  Personal aWen&on •  Safe spaces •  Awareness/Acceptance training

    •  Knowledge of resources, benefits available •  Work from home allowances •  Private space, away from open office environments
  12. Remote •  Can be much harder than on-site. •  Leaders

    MUST strive to get to know their team. •  Community must be fostered and nurtured. •  No “noise” does not mean no problems. •  People are not Trello cards or JIRA &ckets •  Code reviews need special aWen&on •  Trust, communica&on, and teamwork are paramount to preven&ng exclusion.
  13. Front Line – Direct Managers It starts with YOU. • 

    Know your team •  Clear roadblocks •  BE a roadblock (with upper management) •  Focus on the person/people first •  “Mission Accomplishment and Troop Welfare”
  14. Mid-Level Managers Facilitate your teams!!! •  You are the “enablers”

    of the management chain. •  Give your direct reports the resources and leeway to run their teams as needed. •  No team is the same as another team. EVER. •  Numbers maWer. People maWer more.
  15. The Individual •  We all have a responsibility to ourselves

    but also to those around us. •  You can’t think your way out of a cogni&ve/”thinking” illness. •  The first, hardest, and most rewarding step is asking and being open to receiving help and support.
  16. Take Aways •  Suppor&ng mental health is a team effort.

    •  Communica&on and empathy are key •  Systems and anonymity promote ac&on through ease and privacy •  Managers need to know their team and be proac&ve •  Learning to accept help is the hardest but most rewarding step.
  17. Thank you! Feel free to reach out to me on

    TwiWer or Instagram: Jesse James @marginalchaos