Mental Health Awareness – For Developers

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Thankfully mental health in recent times is becoming better highlighted all round in many fields. But we can do more for our community. Try as we might, we all have limits. It is recognising those limits and mitigating circumstances that allow for a more positive career and in turn life. Stress from work could even cause you an earlier death and no project is worth that.

#1 The Dreaded Burnout

Stackoverflow released a survey in 2020 highlighting a bunch of interesting statistics that we seem to align with assumptions already made about the industry. The survey says that “More than 75% of developers work overtime at least occasionally — one to two days per quarter. 25% work overtime 1-2 days per week or more.”. More than 75% working overtime in an already high stress environment can and will have serious consequences on mental health.

We use our brains all day everyday working on solving problems, any extra mental workload on top of that will eventually cause burnout. Burnout is a form of exhaustion that is caused by a number of factors but stress is one of them. I personally have been severely impacted by this in the past and I do believe it is rife within certain companies.

The problem with burnout is, if your workload is already over capacity. You’re only going to feel more pressure to go to the office and try to finish the projects off. Now the primary issue is of course your mental well being but even from a cold logical point of view. You are fundamentally less efficient at your job. Developers who are mentally and physically well are more efficient at their job. So your happiness downstream gets reflected in the businesses ultimate success. In short, happy employees, happy business.

Always advocate on behalf of your colleagues for a better work environment for all. Burnout is no joke and it will cost the business money.

#2 Imposter Syndrome

Ah yes, my personal demon of imposter syndrome. Here’s a list of phrases I sometimes tell myself when it hits me hard.

  • I’m not good enough to do that.
  • There are over hundred people already better at that thing so why bother.
  • You see they rejected you, that means you’re worthless.
  • It’s only a matter of time before they find you out.
  • It’s not perfect, people will judge you.

Now here’s a list of responses I use to help myself get over it:

  • I don’t know I’m not good enough till I try.
  • I’m not trying to be better than other people, I’m just trying to be better than I was yesterday
  • Stop placing your entire career on one job interview.
  • It’s been 10 years and no one has found me out yet!
  • Let them judge, so I can improve it.

I have spoken to a great many developers who have shared this experience and it’s ok! Just keep yourself focussed on your goals, enjoy your work and sometimes take risks, go for that next promotion, you can do it. If we work together we can lift each other up instead of tear each other down.

#3 Depression and Anxiety

Also according to The Stack Overflow 2020 survey: “Among the respondents, almost 15% said they have some type of anxiety, mood, or emotional disorder.”. With the number that high it’s important to be aware of these conditions and help support developers dealing with these emotional disorders.

Sometimes it is just as simple as the company being understanding about your situation that can help a great deal. “You feel you need to take the day? Ok no problem. Let us know if there’s anything we can do” can mean so much more than any salary increase could. Companies advocating for mental health awareness and understanding also buy a great deal of loyalty from their employees. If I’m perfectly happy and supported here, why on earth would I ever want to move?

#4 You’re not alone

Just remember that simple fact, we are all in this together. No one needs to struggle quietly. When you’re facing an issue don’t be proud. Talk about it with someone. A problem shared is a problem halved really does ring true. Also the more you talk about your struggles the more other people will feel comfortable telling you about theirs.

Using this as a resource if you would like to add to this resource then please comment below. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this subject.

Written by

Dominic Cooper-Wootton

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