Diversity and inclusion in tech: supporting mental health

In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity and inclusion in tech event, in partnership with Spinks, a panel discuss how to support people’s mental health in the tech-driven workplace.

Maintaining good mental health during the coronavirus outbreak has been difficult, with many feeling more anxious and stressed as the pandemic threatens jobs and lives. In some cases, especially in the tech sector, it has disrupted work-life balance, especially while technology teams are increasingly relied upon to keep companies functioning outside of the office. All while trying to stay calm during a global pandemic.

Suggestions such as ensuring communication, encouraging work-life balance, having empathy for colleagues and keeping focused on bodily health are all good ways people can ensure they are keeping an eye on their mental health, alongside strategies such as maintaining a normal working routine and trying to emulate normal working life through changing out of pyjamas or pretending to commute to the office.

When discussing mental health at work, individuals are often tasked with managing their mental wellbeing, but companies can help too. What can organisations and colleagues do to support those struggling with their mental wellbeing, and promote good practices for their employees, especially in a time of uncertainty?

Panel members:

  • Flavilla Fongang, founder, 3 Colours Rule
  • James Evans, CEO, Douglas and Gordon
  • Sophie Deen, CEO, Bright Little Labs
  • Sheree Atcheson, global director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Peakon
  • Celine Maher, regional vice-president UK and Ireland, Zendesk

Some of the questions asked, and the advice given:

What can organisations and colleagues do to advocate for those struggling with their mental health during the pandemic?

  • Senior leadership should have an understanding that working from home during the pandemic isn’t the same as working from home in normal circumstances
  • Have trained people to support different groups with their mental health
  • Have a policy in place to ensure people get the help they need
  • As a leader, have open conversations with employees about mental health

How can companies and individuals look after their mental health when working from home via technology can create an ongoing pressure to be “always on”?

  • Ensure communication throughout the organisation, encouraging work-life balance
  • Put routines in place to help structure the day

Is it important to have an official process in place for supporting mental health in an organisation?

  • Have an explicit policy for people to access
  • Create something clear and easy to understand about what is provided and how to access it
  • Develop an informal culture within the organisation to go alongside official protocols

How can people approach those who are behaving differently and might be suffering from a mental health issue?

  • Acknowledge the change in behaviour
  • Create an environment where people feel safe to share how they’re feeling
  • Make trained mental health first aiders available within an organisation who people can approach for help

There are resources available with advice on managing stress and other mental health-related issues during this very difficult time which might be also helpful until things are back to normal.

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