Mental Health Challenges in the IT Sector

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Over 90% of people working in the tech sector have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, per the OSMI Mental Health in Tech (2021) Survey. Around 64.7% of them, meanwhile, report that their productivity has been affected by their struggles. The main reasons for the phenomenon include long working hours, a stressful working environment, and the competitive nature of the sector.

What Mental Health Issues Affect IT Workers?

Three of the most common health problems that impact IT workers include anxiety, depression, and burnout. Workers can also feel a sense of isolation, since many work numerous hours by themselves. A smaller percentage can have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The latter is more prevalent among military and law enforcement workers, but in reality, any worker can be develop PTSD, so long as they feel in danger or threatened. Simply having a bad boss can be a source of traumatic stress.

PTSD is just one workplace injury that can bring compensation to those affected. In order to be compensated for this disorder, workers have to prove that they were exposed to a traumatic event, that it caused them harm, and that it is interfering with their daily lives.

Workers who are burnt out, depressed, or battling PTSD should seek help in order to nip their problem in the bud. Sadly, many employees soldier on in an attempt to pay their bills and satisfy their companies’ demands, aware of the competitiveness of the industry and fearful of their chances to obtain employment in another organization.

Communication is Key

Companies that are truly committed to improving the mental health of IT workers need to begin by putting in the hours required to dialogue with these employees. They need to find out what circumstances would lower stress for workers and make important concessions. For instance, flexible hours, working some days from home, and having childcare in the office may be what their employees desire.

However, every office, job, and employee is different, and each employee should be consulted to determine their source of dissatisfaction or stress. Managers should also be trained to recognize the signs of stress and other mental health issues, so they can offer appropriate resources.

Offering an Array of Health Benefits to IT Workers

Because of the known high level of mental distress among IT workers, companies should offer employees access to a professional therapist at no (or low) cost. They should additionally create employee resource groups, which introduce employees to other workers who have similar interests and demographics.

Finally, companies that offer employees wellness benefits (including gym memberships, in-office yoga and mindfulness classes, and talk therapy) should ensure that employees have set times of the day to avail of these benefits. Company and wellness goals should be aligned, so that stress-busting incentives are not mere ‘marketing’ strategies that most people never actually have enough time to enjoy.

Stress is high in the IT world owing to factors like long hours and strict deadlines. Companies wishing to avoid burnout and PTSD in their employees should begin by talking to employees, investing the required time to discover what truly plagues them, and what actions could make a difference. They should also offer free or low-cost therapy and wellness activities, making sure that employees  do not have goals that are so unrealistic, they never have time to take advantage of these benefits.