Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Reminder: “Doing your best” does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown”
With the world of technology rapidly evolving every minute, behind every product, every release, and every integral meeting lies the overwhelming truth that over half the industry confesses: “I’m not okay”. With 51% of the tech industry suffering from mental health issues and burnout levels increasing every day, the question lies on whether to sacrifice mental health for career progression.
Perhaps the most difficult step—even more difficult than dealing with debilitating mental health itself— is acknowledgment. Recognizing that the work that you used to love is constraining you rather than complementing your life is something that must come from within. Shalini Jain, PMDojo Product fellow, along with Ranjeetha AR, Aerwin Apollo Perez, and Andy Bastien all recognized this pervasive issue in the workplace and were inspired to create an app to provide a personalized plan to help people feel less stressed, find the right therapist if they were looking, and consider different backgrounds so that each individual can receive the best assistance they can.
Never Sacrifice Your Mental Health
For many, the prospect of climbing the corporate ladder conquers all else, including mental health. Based on her personal observations in the workplace, Shalini Jain shares: “You’re told if you work hard you play hard but you sacrifice going home early, eating lunch, and taking bathroom breaks”. The reality of battling with stress is the long-term effects that accumulate over time. Shalini mentioned that she values getting to know everyone on her team individually so everyone doesn’t feel like just a “number”. When asked about mental health in product, she replied: “Before you can create a product to help others, you have to help yourself first”.
Who is Affected?
Of the 7.3 million people who suffer from mental health issues in the technology industry, approximately half of those individuals are marginalized groups. This includes but is not limited to: people of colour, women, people on the spectrum, people part of the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty. The core of this statistical discrepancy cannot be traced to one definitive source, but rather the pent-up unconscious actions that affect these groups at work. From microaggressions, exclusions, stereotypes, prejudices, and institutional stigmas, marginalized groups face a lack of belonging within the corporate community. Without promoting awareness of this unequivocal difference—deficient in many companies' mental health training and seminars—we cannot take steps in order to better workplace discrimination and transform the technology industry into a more inclusive environment.
Power In Numbers
Self-care takes courage. Admitting you need help is an asset, never a weakness. In recent years, a greater number of individuals have been coming out and sharing their mental health journeys to inspire people to act on their health. Despite workforces funding mental health programs for employees, the conversation of mental health still poses a taboo. In conversations about mental health awareness, Shalini mentioned: “There's a stigma about mental health that contributes to the lack of resources and really makes you question how much a company values its employees”. Taking care of your social-emotional wellbeing is a need, and should be a priority. Healing takes time but is well worth it in the long run.
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