Why we can't keep quiet about mental health any longer
Mental health, like physical health, operates on a spectrum. It can range from thriving to coping to struggling to crisis. However, unlike physical illness, mental health conditions more often face negative stereotypes. Thankfully, shifts in our social conscience, as well as increased awareness, are leading to a larger conversation about mental health and its importance in our daily lives, socially, personally and professionally. Mental health issues have long been shrouded in stigma, which contributes to the reduced likelihood of people seeking treatment. As the conversation gets louder and more people chime in, preconceived notions and stereotypes will begin to fall away, and we can feel more liberated to discuss our personal experiences without fear of judgement or negative consequences.
While employers know what mental health policies they should implement, there still seems to be some hypocrisy in the actual culture, especially in the tech industry. Some companies tout the importance of self-care and work/life balance, but then praise individuals who work long hours, don’t take vacation and are available at all times. Inherently, the industry promotes innovation at an almost impossibly fast-pace, which naturally attracts highly-driven, production-focused individuals, who, in turn, are more likely to sacrifice personal well-being for professional achievement. According to recent OSMI data, 19.1% of US adults are experiencing a mental health condition, yet 51% of tech professionals have been diagnosed with one. The intense pressure to not only keep up with the competition, but to stay ahead of it, in combination with the potential for burnout from continuous work, can oftentimes exacerbate mental health issues.
What can companies actually do to support their employees’ mental health?
eyeo is consciously taking action to destigmatize and emphasize the importance of mental health by offering free counseling sessions via InstaHelp, BetterHelp or money towards counseling, weekly remote yoga and meditation courses, the opportunity for open conversations with management, and initiatives like eyeo Corona Family Care to help ease the burden of raising a family during the pandemic and avoid burnout. eyeo is also dedicated to spreading awareness about mental health through our eyeo blog and at industry events in an effort to be influencers for change.
While it can always be challenging to discuss any issues you are facing, it is a driving principal at eyeo that employees should be able to do so without facing discrimination or penalization because of them. Stereotypes surrounding mental health are slowly becoming dismantled but there is still more work to be done. We think an important way to contribute is through conversation which we will continue through a series of blog posts and promote with updates on upcoming external events that our team is already preparing.