Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

[phpworld] Empathy as a Service: Supporting Mental Health in the Tech Workplace

[phpworld] Empathy as a Service: Supporting Mental Health in the Tech Workplace

Nara Kasbergen

November 15, 2018
Tweet

More Decks by Nara Kasbergen

Other Decks in Technology

Transcript

  1. EMPATHY
    AS A SERVICE
    SUPPORTING
    MENTAL HEALTH
    IN THE TECH
    WORKPLACE
    Nara Kasbergen
    (@xiehan)
    php[world] 2018
    #phpworld
    November 15, 2018

    View full-size slide

  2. TOPICS COVERED
    1. What are we talking about?
    2. Why I speak up about this
    3. What can we do?
    ▹ pragmatic, common-sense, action-oriented;
    anyone can do these things!
    4. What must we do together?
    ▹ difficult, aspirational; everyone has to do their part

    View full-size slide

  3. 1.
    WHAT EVEN
    ARE WE TALKING
    ABOUT?

    View full-size slide

  4. 1 in 5
    Americans living with mental illness at any given time
    Source: Mental
    Health America

    View full-size slide

  5. 1 in 11
    Americans living with diabetes
    Source: CDC.gov

    View full-size slide

  6. 1 in 12
    Americans living with asthma
    Source: AAAAI

    View full-size slide

  7. 1 in 5
    Americans living with arthritis
    Source: CDC.gov

    View full-size slide

  8. Mental illness is one
    of the most prevalent
    chronic health
    conditions, but
    we don’t talk about it

    View full-size slide

  9. A VERY INCOMPLETE LIST OF
    MENTAL ILLNESSES
    Depression
    Generalized anxiety
    disorder
    Bipolar disorder
    Substance use disorder
    (alcoholism)
    Eating disorder (bulimia)
    ADHD
    PTSD
    Obsessive-compulsive
    disorder (OCD)
    Impulse control disorder
    Antisocial personality disorder
    Schizophrenia
    Dissociative identity disorder
    Autism spectrum disorders*
    Burnout**

    View full-size slide

  10. depression is at least
    13x more prevalent
    than schizophrenia
    in the United States

    View full-size slide

  11. SYMPTOMS OF MAJOR DEPRESSION
    ▸ Feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness
    ▸ Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration
    ▸ Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
    ▸ Sleep disturbances (insomnia or sleeping too much)
    ▸ Tiredness and lack of energy
    ▸ Changes in appetite
    ▸ Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
    Source: Mayo Clinic

    View full-size slide


  12. Telling someone not to be
    sad because others have it
    worse is like telling people
    they can’t be happy because
    others have it better.
    - Unknown

    View full-size slide

  13. Source:
    robot-hugs.com

    View full-size slide

  14. Source:
    robot-hugs.com

    View full-size slide

  15. Source:
    robot-hugs.com

    View full-size slide

  16. 56%
    of U.S. adults with mental illness do not receive treatment
    Source: Mental
    Health America

    View full-size slide

  17. 15%
    of those with severe depression die by suicide
    Source: Mental
    Health America

    View full-size slide

  18. 2x
    rate at which women experience depression
    compared to men*
    Source: Mental
    Health America

    View full-size slide

  19. #3
    ranking of depression among the top three workplace
    problems, following only family crisis and stress
    Source: Mental
    Health America

    View full-size slide

  20. $51 billion
    estimated annual cost of absenteeism from work and
    lost productivity
    Source: Mental
    Health America

    View full-size slide

  21. $26 billion
    estimated annual direct treatment costs
    Source: Mental
    Health America

    View full-size slide

  22. 59%
    percentage of Americans (ages 19 to 64) who get their
    insurance through their employer
    Source: Kaiser
    Family Foundation

    View full-size slide

  23. Why people do not speak up
    ▸ Fear of dismissal
    ▸ Fear of being taken out of promotion consideration
    ▸ Fear of being taken off high-value projects/contracts
    ▸ Fear of reduced hours (for hourly workers)
    ▸ Fear of being asked to take unpaid medical leave
    ▸ Fear of being treated differently

    View full-size slide

  24. “Leave your personal
    life at home when you
    come to work.”

    View full-size slide

  25. 2.
    WHY I SPEAK
    UP ABOUT THIS

    View full-size slide

  26. I’m a software
    engineer.

    View full-size slide

  27. I’m a software
    engineer.
    I identify as mentally
    healthy.

    View full-size slide

  28. Ni Mu
    July 13, 1988 -
    September 14, 2016

    View full-size slide

  29. it's on Medium
    or
    bit.ly/2oYYyOR
    (warning: it's 6,000+ words)
    I WROTE A BLOG POST

    View full-size slide

  30. SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
    NationJS in McLean, VA

    View full-size slide

  31. Ed Finkler (@funkatron)
    OPEN
    SOURCING
    MENTAL
    ILLNESS
    (osmihelp.org)

    View full-size slide

  32. Source: OSMI

    View full-size slide


  33. I could do so many
    awesome things if
    only my own head
    didn’t get in the way.
    - Ed Finkler (@funkatron)

    View full-size slide

  34. 3.
    WHAT CAN
    WE DO?

    View full-size slide

  35. COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF
    TECH WORKPLACES AND CULTURE
    ▸ The work is challenging and stressful
    ▸ Our jobs are highly collaborative
    ▸ Many of us have relocated for a job
    ▸ Most of us work remotely at least part of the time
    ▸ We're often expected to be available outside work hours
    ▸ Someone needs to fix things when they break overnight
    ▸ There is a heavy emphasis on drinking culture

    View full-size slide

  36. RELOCATION
    Positive:
    ▸ Much easier to feel a
    part of the team and
    helping toward the
    mission if you're on-site
    ▸ Can bring you closer to a
    community of
    practitioners in your
    field than where you
    currently are

    View full-size slide

  37. RELOCATION
    Negative:
    ▸ Takes someone away
    from the existing
    support structures they
    have already built up
    ▸ Generally stressful
    ▸ Making new friends as
    an adult is surprisingly
    hard!
    Positive:
    ▸ Much easier to feel a
    part of the team and
    helping toward the
    mission if you're on-site
    ▸ Can bring you closer to a
    community of
    practitioners in your
    field than where you
    currently are

    View full-size slide

  38. RELOCATION
    Solutions:
    ▸ As a community, stop saying that the best way to
    succeed in tech is to relocate to Silicon Valley;
    become more accepting of alternative choices
    ▸ If you are a manager, take another look at your
    hiring practices and see whether remote
    employment is an option
    ▸ Create a "Welcome Wagon" for new colleagues
    who have had to relocate to join your company

    View full-size slide

  39. FREE IDEA: "THE WELCOME WAGON"
    ▸ Take the new employee out for lunch or dinner with
    the team. Avoid alcohol at their first social event.
    ▸ Team members take turns introducing the new
    employee to activities and events in the area, e.g.
    ▹ Invite them to join your book club meeting!
    ▹ Invite them to go rock climbing!
    ▹ Invite them to join your bocce league!
    ▹ Invite them to go volunteering with you!

    View full-size slide

  40. REMOTE WORK
    Positive:
    ▸ Flexible hours
    ▸ Easier to attend daytime
    therapy appointments
    ▸ Easier to stick to
    medication regimens
    ▸ Easier to take breaks
    ▸ Quiet & peaceful

    View full-size slide

  41. REMOTE WORK
    Negative:
    ▸ Sense of isolation
    ▸ Harder to build strong
    relationships with
    co-workers
    ▸ Harder to tell if colleagues
    are doing OK (health-wise)
    ▸ Can make it challenging to
    maintain work-life balance
    Positive:
    ▸ Flexible hours
    ▸ Easier to attend daytime
    therapy appointments
    ▸ Easier to stick to
    medication regimens
    ▸ Easier to take breaks
    ▸ Quiet & peaceful

    View full-size slide

  42. REMOTE WORK
    Solutions:
    ▸ Make funds available for employees to join a co-
    working space (or encourage colleagues to do so)
    ▸ Fly in remote employees or hold company-wide
    off-sites to make sure they feel part of the team
    ▸ Look into the latest research on remote work
    culture, improvements you can make to integrate
    remote employees

    View full-size slide


  43. But what about
    open plan offices?

    View full-size slide

  44. OPEN PLAN OFFICES
    Positive:
    ▸ More conducive to
    collaboration, creative
    problem-solving between
    multiple employees
    ▸ Easier to construct
    because of e.g. fire code
    ▸ Can increase sense of
    team unity, camaraderie

    View full-size slide

  45. OPEN PLAN OFFICES
    Negative:
    ▸ Noise reduces
    productivity
    ▸ Lack of privacy
    ▸ Increased stress
    ▸ Increased peer pressure
    ▸ Highly conducive to spread
    of disease (cold, flu, etc.)
    Positive:
    ▸ More conducive to
    collaboration, creative
    problem-solving between
    multiple employees
    ▸ Easier to construct
    because of e.g. fire code
    ▸ Can increase sense of
    team unity, camaraderie

    View full-size slide

  46. OPEN PLAN OFFICES
    Solutions:
    ▸ Allow employees to work remotely (or increase the
    number of days per week or per month when they
    can do so)
    ▸ Urge employees to work from home when sick
    ▸ Set aside small meeting spaces for quiet work
    ▸ Have the company provide noise-canceling headphones
    ▸ Encourage employees to decorate their workspace

    View full-size slide

  47. ON-CALL ROTATIONS

    View full-size slide

  48. ON-CALL ROTATIONS
    Positive:
    ▸ A huge burden being
    shared among the team
    improves sense of team
    unity, camaraderie
    ▸ Engineers have a way to
    prove understanding of
    the technical systems,
    ability to handle crisis

    View full-size slide

  49. ON-CALL ROTATIONS
    Negative:
    ▸ Expecting the unexpected
    can be very difficult for
    those with serious anxiety
    disorders
    ▸ Lack of sleep or
    interrupted sleep is bad for
    mental health
    ▸ High stress leads to burnout
    Positive:
    ▸ A huge burden being
    shared among the team
    improves sense of team
    unity, camaraderie
    ▸ Engineers have a way to
    prove understanding of
    the technical systems,
    ability to handle crisis

    View full-size slide

  50. ON-CALL ROTATIONS
    Solutions:
    ▸ Fix tech issues to make being on-call less stressful
    ▸ If someone is called in the middle of the night, give
    them adequate time to catch up on sleep
    ▸ For employees with serious anxiety disorders, see
    if there's a way to take them out of the on-call
    rotation without making them feel like they're not
    contributing

    View full-size slide

  51. ALCOHOL AT TECH EVENTS

    View full-size slide

  52. ALCOHOL AT TECH EVENTS
    Positive:
    ▸ One or two drinks can
    make it easier for some
    introverts and those
    with social anxiety to
    socialize with peers
    ▸ If you don't offer alcohol,
    those who want to drink
    will go to a bar instead
    of staying to mingle
    with others at the event

    View full-size slide

  53. ALCOHOL AT TECH EVENTS
    Negative:
    ▸ Non-drinkers feel
    unwelcome
    ▸ Recovering alcoholics feel
    threatened
    ▸ Free alcohol and drinking
    culture are so pervasive that
    there are probably more
    functioning alcoholics in
    tech than we're aware of
    Positive:
    ▸ One or two drinks can
    make it easier for some
    introverts and those
    with social anxiety to
    socialize with peers
    ▸ If you don't offer alcohol,
    those who want to drink
    will go to a bar instead
    of staying to mingle
    with others at the event

    View full-size slide

  54. ALCOHOL AT TECH EVENTS
    Solutions:
    ▸ Offer nice alternatives (fancy sodas, mocktails)
    for non-drinkers to make them feel included
    ▸ Put a limit on the number of free drinks (use tickets)
    ▸ Have activities other than drinking (e.g. board games)
    ▸ In a recurring series, try alternating dry/non-dry events
    ▸ Add workplace wellness programs on substance abuse

    View full-size slide

  55. MANAGERS, TECH LEADS AND
    SENIOR DEVS: LEAD BY EXAMPLE
    ▸ Don't micro-manage
    ▸ Leave the office on time
    ▸ Take regular vacations
    ▸ Don't send or answer e-mails at 2am if possible
    ▸ Be receptive to feedback on your own performance
    ▸ Be a good listener
    ▸ Be open to talking about your health and mental health

    View full-size slide

  56. OTHER ACTION ITEMS FOR
    MANAGERS
    ▸ Make sure employees understand their benefits
    and what mental health treatments are covered
    ▸ Revisit your hiring practices with an eye to mental
    illness and neurodiversity
    ▸ Make sure your employees feel valued and are on
    projects that they find fulfilling and empowering
    ▸ Get the OSMI handbooks (leanpub.com/u/osmi)
    ▸ Consider offering the Mental Health First Aid training

    View full-size slide

  57. MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
    (mentalhealthfirstaid.org)
    ▸ Teaches how to respond if you encounter someone
    having a mental health crisis
    ▸ International program (started in Australia)
    ▹ Available in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland,
    Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands & more
    ▸ 8-hour or 12-hour training course
    ▸ Usually costs $50-100 per person with materials
    ▸ Employers can host a training on-site

    View full-size slide

  58. THE ALGEE ACTION PLAN

    View full-size slide

  59. 4.
    WHAT MUST WE
    DO TOGETHER?

    View full-size slide

  60. SUPPORT MARGINALIZED PEOPLE
    IN THE TECH INDUSTRY
    ▸ Chronic harassment, bullying, and micro-
    aggressions can lead to depression, exacerbate
    eating disorders, and cause or worsen other
    mental illnesses
    ▸ Even in tech, women are still judged by their looks
    ▸ People from marginalized groups feel they have to
    over-perform (to counteract the "lowering the bar"
    myth), which leads to increased stress and a greater
    likelihood of burnout

    View full-size slide

  61. FULLY EMBRACE NEURODIVERSITY
    ▸ Mental disorders like ADHD and autism are the
    result of natural variations of the human genome
    ▸ "People with differences do not need to be cured;
    they need help and accommodation instead."
    ▸ Some of our greatest inventions are attributed to
    people with atypical neurology
    ▸ "Mental illness gives me superpowers." - Ed Finkler
    ▸ "Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage" (HBR)

    View full-size slide

  62. THINGS WE CAN ONLY CHANGE
    AS A CULTURE
    ▸ Working ourselves to death - the over-emphasis
    on hard work, and stigma against vacation
    ▸ The need to always be available by phone or email
    ▸ The peer pressure caused by social media
    ▸ The belief that you must be in Silicon Valley to succeed
    ▸ The stigma against talking about our feelings
    ▸ The idea that engineers don't have empathy

    View full-size slide


  63. Empathy is the
    antidote to shame.
    - Andrea Goulet (@andreagoulet)

    View full-size slide

  64. "EMPATHY AS A SERVICE"

    View full-size slide

  65. THERE IS NO APP FOR THIS

    View full-size slide


  66. I could do so many
    awesome things if
    only my own head
    didn’t get in the way.
    - Ed Finkler (@funkatron)

    View full-size slide

  67. RESOURCES
    Want to help?
    ▸ reach out. ask.
    listen. tell your
    friends you care.
    ▸ osmihelp.org
    ▸ mhprompt.org
    ▸ if-me.org
    ▸ mentalhealth
    firstaid.org
    Need help?
    ▸ talk to someone: a friend,
    relative, counselor, etc.
    ▸ forums.osmihelp.org
    ▸ locator.apa.org
    ▸ suicidepreventionlifeline.org
    or 1-800-273-8255(TALK)
    ▸ crisistextline.org
    or TEXT “START” TO 741741

    View full-size slide

  68. THANK YOU!
    Come by the OSMI sponsor
    booth to talk more about this!
    [email protected]
    @xiehan
    osmihelp.org/donate
    dedicated to Ni Mu

    View full-size slide