Developer's Mental Health

Developer's Mental Health

EDD [Experience Driven Development] - some basic information around the topic mental health/illness in IT


Michael Scholl

October 07, 2014


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    MICHAEL SCHOLL • human • studied music therapy • doing

    web development since 10 years • baking bread • playing piano • father of 2 wonderful children • @mischosch /
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    MENTAL HEALTH • is connected to love • is connected

    to relationship • is connected to your childhood • is connected to experiences you had • is connected to much more than you might think
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    MENTAL HEALTH • your grandparents failed • your parents failed

    • you failed [and you will fail again] • this is not a problem, this is life!
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    MENTAL HEALTH • hard to define, what mental health is

    • „official“ definition: related to ability to be part of society (which is mostly defined through your capability to „work“ and „perform“ as expected) • in german: arbeitsfähig
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    MENTAL HEALTH • personal definition: it’s individual • it’s all

    about your coping strategies and being resilient
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    SOME FACTS / NUMBERS • 350 millions suffer depression worldwide

    * • gender makes a difference ** • social status makes a difference ** • suicide / heavy depression: 15% *** * ** ***
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    „Führende europäische Wirtschaftsunternehmen vereinigen sich, um einen potenziellen Verlust von

    1 Milliarde Arbeitstagen wegen Depressionen zu verhindern.“ wirtschaftsunternehmen-vereinigen-sich-um-einen-potenziellen-verlust-von-1-milliarde-arbeitstagen-wegen- depressionen-zu-verhindern SOME FACTS / NUMBERS
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    (Greenberg, et al., 2003) „The cost of depression (lost productivity

    and increased medical expenses) is $83 billion each year which exceeds the costs of the war in Afghanistan.“ SOME FACTS / NUMBERS
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    think one moment about a kindergartener, single mother
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    DEVELOPER’S MENTAL HEALTH • 8h+ in front of a glowing

    display • seeking for being able to work without any disruption for long distance of time • social interactions are often based on using a device and a digital channel • no special education how to work inside a team • building abstract, logical system architecture - just out of the developers mind • drugs (coffein, mate, alcohol, nicotine, thc, amphetamine, …)
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    DEVELOPER’S MENTAL HEALTH • stressed out by meetings (social interaction)

    • stressed out by discussions, how to achieve something (flame wars about spaces vs tabs) • stressed out by not having clear team members roles • stressed out by managers not being trained for handling people with emotions and all that stuff, that comes up, if you try to build a team (it’s mostly not about code) • stressed out by the disruption of a working team by throwing new team members in and having the expectation, that there will be a instant production boost • stressed out by team processes in general • stressed out by missing empowerment and honor of done work
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    DEVELOPER’S MENTAL HEALTH • I didn’t meet this „typical archetype

    of an developer“ in real life - much diversity (besides being white and in most cases men, for my own experiences) • We’re all seen as human resource - thats common between us (or why have companies HR departments?)
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    SO, WHAT’S ABOUT EMOTIONS? Emotions are not a logical system.

    There is no manual for dealing with them, so „rtfm“ does not work at all.
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    SOME FACTS / NUMBERS • The ICD-10 Classification of Mental

    and Behavioural Disorders [World Health Organization] • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 
 (DSM) - DSM-5 [2013] * •
 (scroll through this and feel healthy!) *
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    F66 Psychological and behavioural disorders associated with sexual development and

    orientation Note: Sexual orientation alone is not to be regarded as a disorder. The following five-character codes may be used to indicate variations of sexual development or orientation that may be problematic for the individual: F66.x0 Heterosexual F66.x1 Homosexual F66.x2 Bisexual To be used only when there is clear evidence of sexual attraction to members of both sexes. F66.x8 Other, including prepubertal ICD-10 EXAMPLE
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    • Hamilton Skala ( • Questions: • depressed mood, •

    feelings of guilt, • suicide, • insomnia, • work and activities, • anxiety, • loss of weight, • insight • depersonalization and derealization • paranoid symptoms ICD-10 DEPRESSION - F32/33
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    • „Despite its great popularity, burnout is not recognized as

    a distinct disorder, neither in the DSM,nor in the ICD-10. This is notably due to the fact that burnout is problematically close to depressive disorders.“ [Wikipedia] • 12 Steps (by Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North): • The Compulsion to Prove Oneself • Working Harder • Neglecting Their Needs • Displacement of Conflicts • Revision of Values • Denial of Emerging Problems • Withdrawal • Obvious Behavioral Changes • Depersonalization • Inner Emptiness • Depression • Burnout Syndrome ICD-10 BURN OUT - Z73.0
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    • Every day is a bad day • You are

    no longer emotionally invested in your job or the work you’re doing • You feel unappreciated or do not feel like you’re making a difference in your job • There is a clear disconnect between your personal values and what is expected of you • Self-defined goals or those imposed on you are unrealistic or unreasonable • A significant amount of your day is focused on tasks that are not fulfilling on a personal or emotional level YOU MAY BE FLIRTING WITH BURNOUT IF
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    • This „mental illness“ fits IT sometimes quite good •

    1.5% of children in the United States (one in 68) are diagnosed with ASD as of 2014, a 30% increase from one in 88 in 2012. • The number of people diagnosed with autism has been increasing dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice and government-subsidized financial incentives for named diagnoses; the question of whether actual prevalence has increased is unresolved. AUTISM, ASPERGER - F84.0-4
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    • Presence of abnormal or impaired development before the age

    of three years • Qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal social interaction • Qualitative abnormalities in communication • Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests and activities AUTISM, ASPERGER - F84.0-4
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    • not „Selbstmord“ - it is „Suizid“ (please!) • you

    won’t read about suicides inside the news • Remember: 15% of the people having a heavy depression decide to take that way out of their pain • People talk about it (not always, but in most cases) • You will recognize, but don’t like the feelings you get while being with another suicidal person • As a friend/colleague - get external help for yourself (and if possible, for the other one, too) - asap! • Committing suicide is an active action - this should/could be respected • There is no „right to die“ in most countries (think about people with incurable diseases in the very last phase of their malady) - religion influences and state law are not reflected well at that point - imho SUICIDE
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    SELF CARE • start having a [new] hobby (analog stuff)

    • start having a hobby, that enables you to express your emotions • start hacking your body (healthy food, sports) • start going out for a walk _every day_ • have a weekend without any devices • use (new?) structures and patterns 
 (try to overcome your weaker self) •
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    SELF CARE • use your community -> socialize • having

    friends working in another field then IT is not a bad thing • family - fill this placeholder yourself! • speak about your emotions at your job - instantly! • don’t think, you’re alone - you’re one of many • get external help, if needed…
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    FINDING HELP • your insurance [in Germany] allows you to

    visit 3 therapist before you select one • to get money from your insurance, the therapist needs to give the baby a name - talking about a diagnosis • finding a new (life) insurance with being in therapy last 5 years because of an official diagnose - could be a problem • most cases will start with a short-term therapy (20h) with a behavioral direction • you’re privileged - you can pay for it, if you want!
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    FINDING HELP • is not that easy, as you might

    imagine • therapy places are booked all over and you will be placed on waiting lists • 20h are not that much • a good therapist could only help you finding a solution yourself • there is no bugfix, there are only workarounds
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    TEAM/COMMUNITY CARE • respect & empower other people • imagine

    code as architecture - if you talk to its architects, do it with respect • show respect for done work, if you want it another way, make a proposal in „I message“ style • have community/team roles - they are so important! • find community/team rules • apply community/team rules
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    TEAM/COMMUNITY CARE • if a new community/team member is added,

    start finding/ applying rules again • take onboarding of new community/team members really serious • new community/team members will def have effects to the rest of the team. Group dynamics change and that will have a huge impact - its up to the leaders, if it will be a good or bad impact • if you’re a new community/team member - show as much respect, as possible (ask all of your questions!) - please be aware, that you affect the rest of the group - be sensible
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    COMPANY CARE • it’s all about humans, not human resources

    • it’s all about humans, not human resources [repeat] • managers need knowledge of group dynamics • managers need knowledge of human behavior • managers need knowledge of mental health! • managers need someone to reflect group dynamics in their team/company (extern mentor/supervision/consultation)
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    COMPANY CARE • forget about SCRUM, KANBAN and Agile until

    you have a good working team! • forget about sponsored food, kicker, table tennis and all that sweet candy - start offering a healthy working place for humans, that live a life besides their jobs • be careful with new team members - hire them, if they could fit into the team, not because they wrote that great new lib in brainfuck • allow the team to have great power - if you have a great team spirit, the team will rock
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    COMPANY CARE If you would like to talk about that

    stuff / searching for a Mentor with another point of view than increasing output feel free to contact:
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    If we build communities/teams on top of that, we should

    have much less problems with diversity, privileges and mental health empathy, love, relationship, engagement
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    SOME READINGS • Open Sourcing Mental Illness - MadisonPHP 2014

    - funkatron - • Avoiding Burnout, and Other Essentials of Open Source Self-Care — Kathleen Danielson - • • • engagement-strate • • • •