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.


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Great presentation on mental health. I think it's great to hear from someone who self-identifies as "mentally healthy" because this is an issue that is important to *everyone*, not just those who personally deal with mental illness. We should all be talking about it and ending the stigma.

Super nice talk. Super (and sad) reason to do so.

I wish I could give this talk more than five stars. I've seen several talks on mental health, and this is by far the best both in terms of informing the audience about the state of mental health, encouraging the cultivation of empathy, and most importantly, showing how anyone can help to make the status quo better. Nara delivered many statistics and cited sources in an understandable way and was also very heartfelt in sharing her own personal experiences. I hope to see this talk on the schedule of many more conferences in the future.

Clarke Huhta at 18:04 on 23 Sep 2017

I really appreciate the in depth discussion this topic gets in this talk.

Being someone with social anxiety and also being a CEO at the same time, I love the fact that people are actually talking about this topic. Nara's topic, although I know hard for her, is one that needs to be heard and I'm glad she is sharing it. Software Development is our jobs, but at the end of the day we are all human and that needs to be recognized. I personally am open about my condition to everyone for two reasons. a) it personally helps me with my problems. b) it creates that open door policy that Nora spoke about.

Ryan Gittins at 10:15 on 27 Sep 2017

This talk was refreshing. It's great to see someone go in depth with this topic and give some practical examples of how we can all avoid burnout and be healthier in general.

Very informative

Eric Landmann at 16:16 on 2 Oct 2017

I almost did not go to this as I thought it would not be that interesting. But it was anything but... Nara provided a lot of insights that were surprising. If you think about it, we are knowledge workers. Without being mentally happy, we are not of any value. Thanks for putting this together.