Let’s Talk About Mental Health in Tech

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Now more than ever, tech leaders are concerned with the mental and emotional well-being of their workforce. To address those concerns, MassTLC and MindWise Innovations have come together to provide a four-part behavioral health series to help tech executives better navigate the psychological safety and anti-stigma requirements in today’s workplace.

The presenter for each session is Lisa K. Desai, Psy.D., Director, Behavioral Health Consulting, MindWise Innovations.

Lisa leads the development of new screening tools and innovative programs with the goal of reaching underserved populations. In her role, Lisa regularly consults with MindWise partners. She has been a practicing, licensed psychologist for 25 years, providing behavioral health services to youth, adults, and families. Lisa is fluent in Gujarati, and when not at work, she enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, exploring new cities, and attempting to cook Indian cuisine.

Below are descriptions for each of the four sessions.

SESSION I – Let’s Talk about Behavioral Health in Tech Companies

This session will explore the following topics:

  • Unique job demands and pressures
  • Tech company mental health stats in light of national stats
  • Bright minds, creativity and cost of burnout balanced by innovative, gratifying successes
  • Continuum of mental well-being – no system runs smoothly and identically at all times
  • Psych Safety:  Review main components of psychological safety &impact on individual/teams; intersecting of PS and behavioral health.
  • How does an organization ensure the signs of presenteeism is recognized throughout – not just reserved for “management.” I.e. How would a SCRUM team of DevOps Team recognize and address presenteeism?
  • Leadership sets the tone, leads by example in saying that mental health is a part of our overall health. Time to de-mystify and normalize what mental health means and how it affects us all. Vital for leadership to convey trust in employees and in peers

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SESSION II – How Anxiety and Depression Impact Tech Teams

This session will explore the following topics:

  • Anxiety and depression – signs, how it shows up
  • Presenteeism, impact of mental health on creativity and focus – specific impact on tech work
  • Managing home/work responsibilities – boundaries can be blurred; isolated vs group living
  • Psych Safety:  Leaning on leadership, but also making certain self-managed / agile teams are equipped and empowered.  Emphasis on transparency with decisive leadership – how to support teams remotely with clear, consistent communication; cascaded communication – top, down and bottom, up

Andrew Shatte, Ph.D., meQuilibrium Co-founder and Chief Science Officer, will be joining Lisa Desai to discuss managing anxiety, burnout, and depression.

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SESSION III – Valuing Neurodiversity in the Tech Industry:  Understanding a Vital Community

This session will explore the following topics:

  • Myths and Facts about neurodiverse individuals
  • Cognitive and related skills which make tech a professional fit
    • Specific enhanced cognitive skills including pattern recognition, attention to detail, sustained concentration, logical analysis and error detection.
  • Unique struggles for those who identify as neurodiverse
  • Contributions to teams and innovation
  • Psych Safety:  Leadership is attuned to new learnings and promotes conversations via conferences, workshops; creating and sustaining ERG groups; providing resources and systemic supports within the workplace.
  • Psych safety – more need to understand how learning occurs and can be optimized across org.

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SESSION IV – Supporting Tech Employees During Times of Job and Financial Insecurity

This session will explore the following topics:

  • Difficult to talk about money anywhere, let alone work environment
  • How can leadership facilitate honest conversations about job security?
  • What are your company policies re: furlough, benefits?
  • How to balance and communicate need to both lay off/furlough and hire new talent?
  • Psych Safety:  Continued modeling of honest, clear communication; open door policy so that employees can turn to leadership/manager for guidance and input regarding job options in face of furlough or layoff; focus on realistic empowerment.

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