At any given time, 1 in 5 Americans are living with a mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, burnout, or ADHD. Statistically, all of us working for an organization with 5 or more employees have at least one colleague who is affected. At the same time, the tech industry is often characterized by high stress, long hours, workplace pressure to be available by phone and e-mail after-hours or sometimes even while on vacation, social pressure to constantly network and attend conferences and make a name for yourself, and the precarious balance between trying to do good by contributing to open-source and maintaining some semblance of free time that doesn't involve coding. Given how this demanding environment increasingly blurs the line between our professional and personal lives, how can we ensure that the most vulnerable among us aren't being left behind?

As a community, the single most damaging thing we can do is continue to treat mental health as a personal shortcoming that can't be talked about openly. We shouldn't think of it as "somebody else's problem"; the 4 in 5 of us who don't currently have mental health disorders must do our part to help end the stigma. This talk will begin with an overview of key statistics about mental illness, followed by the efforts of the non-profit organization Open Sourcing Mental Illness to gather more data about mental health in the tech industry, the ALGEE action plan taught by the Mental Health First Aid training course, and finally conclude with ideas and strategies for making our tech workplaces more accommodating and inclusive.


Comments are closed.

Jordan Kasper at 12:30 on 1 Jul 2017

I'm really happy to see this session on the schedule, and the information Nara provided was very good. This is not an easy topic to discuss for many people, and she did well. One area to improve in would be the very bullet point focused slides. It made me want to read them versus listening to her.

Herberto Graca at 13:26 on 1 Jul 2017

Great talk on a very important and difficult subject.

Anonymous at 13:32 on 1 Jul 2017

The subject was excellent, and deserves more attention. The content of the talk was strong, only the section on remote work and flying people in felt too long and not very relevant to the Netherlands or most of Europe.

The presentation felt knowledgeable and engaged with the subject, but it could be improved by being less static. Try less reading of the literal text on the slides, paraphrasing instead. Move away from the laptop more and leave an occasional pause in the word flow.

Marc Hagen at 15:57 on 1 Jul 2017

So i got allot of useful information and this was really a great talk but please because its a serious topic you still can walk around and look into the room. And im not sure if she was nervous or emotional but for me at was not that pleasant to listen in some parts.

Andrii Syniuk at 17:07 on 1 Jul 2017

Good talk about topic, that nobody wants to touch

Every conference needs a talk like this, very inspirational.

Just a great talk. It really felt like you knew what you wanted to deliver on. I was afraid it might be a talk about opinions or emotions but it wasn't that at all. It was facts all the way down. As some other people also mentioned, the slides could have used less words but in this case it didn't personally bother me.

Very good and interesting talk on a difficult subject. I would love more soft skills talks like this!

Bart Guliker at 16:39 on 2 Jul 2017

Great talk! It really got me thinking about the subject and made me realise I need to research more about it and be more aware of it in daily work life. The only thing I can comment is that most of the talk was very much based off of American work culture and work ethics, and it didn't always quite resonate with me personally. Maybe you can tune the content a little bit more to the audience, depending on where you give it. Other than that tiny comment, great work!

Peter Meijer at 21:30 on 2 Jul 2017

Good talk about a sensitive subject.

At some times the talk was static, too much standing behinding the laptop.

Keep up the good work on telling about Ni Mu and this subject!

Martijn at 09:14 on 3 Jul 2017

Thank you Nara to bring this subject into the clear at a conference.

It is quite a difficult topic to address, and that did show a bit, for the speaker it showed you are knowledgeable on the subject, but please don't look that much on the laptop, it took away the dynamics of a talk that in my opinion is a subject overlooked at by most companies, until they've to deal with it.

Having said that, I love the way that you are honouring Ni Mu, and hope that by doing these talks your personal loss can help others to prevent people thinking about suicide.

Tim Huijzers at 18:07 on 3 Jul 2017

This topic should be mandatory for every conference. other that having no time at the end it was very heavy but insightful to know more about this topic.