What the Tech is OSMI?
Hello tech people, this blog is for you.
I’m going to highlight key points of what the non-profit OSMI (Open Sourcing Mental Illness) offers through their website via their research, videos, forums, and e-books in a condensed form.
You might be reading this wondering if you’re alone in struggling with mental health at your tech company.
OSMI did a survey in 2016 and found that if folks had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, these five were the most common:
73% had a mood disorder (depression, bipolar)
61% had an anxiety disorder (general, social, phobia)
19% had ADHD
13% had PTSD
8% had OCD
You are definitely not alone.
OSMI has a forum for folks who want to talk to other real tech people about how these issues have affected them.
It seems that a lot of tech companies do not highlight mental health benefits for employees even when they do have options. Informing employees of benefits is the first step to building a culture of openness and accommodation for mental health. Companies should be excited about offering online resources, workshops, meetings, etc. related to coping!
There are so many ways to do this too. If you’re reading this thinking “I’m not a manager or supervisor so this doesn’t apply to me” you may be wrong! Having an idea of what your options are as a tech employee can possibly help you advocate for suggestions to HR or your supervisor.
Let’s start with your rights. Think about this:
- Mental health impairment is considered a disability.
- According to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) discrimination based on a disability is illegal.
- Also according to ADA, reasonable accommodations are required for folks with a disability in the workplace.
- Thus, it’s literally in the law to not stigmatize based on mental illness.
I hope so because from what I’ve heard tech people feel the need to hide their mental health problems in the workplace, and that leads to isolation and burnout. We are at work all the time, people! It is so important to work in a place where you can be your full self.
These are some examples of reasonable accommodations to get the ideas flowing:
- Flexible scheduling (working from home occasionally)
- Modified breaks
- Providing an employee with organizers (apps or planners)
- Recording meetings
- Assigning a mentor to help with tasks and motivation
- Encouraging use of stress management techniques
- Providing leave for counseling
Seriously some of the above ideas seem like a good idea for ALL employees.
If you’re thinking “my employer doesn’t care about my mental health,” maybe framing the fact that mental illness impacts productivity and cost (not showing up to work) could get them to pay attention.
In the end, lasting change has to come from management. So if you advocate for yourself and it is not making an impact, it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions like: what are my boundaries? Can I find mental health care and learn to cope in my current work environment? Or is it time to find a company that focuses more on mental wellness culture?
Sussing all this out with a therapist may be the best way to find the answer.
I’m available for free 30-minute consultations in south Austin to see if we would be a good fit for counseling. Contact me today to schedule a time.
Julia Stamman, LPC
Hi, I’m Julia! I’m an LPC (licensed professional counselor) practicing in South Austin. I understand the personal importance of a therapist groking my lifestyle, so I started helping others who identify as geeks, gamers, and/or misfits. Over time, I realized that I’m passionate about attachment-related trauma, social anxiety, and neurodiversity. On this blog, I write on topics like the overlap of alternative culture and mental health, and how to find services catered to these lifestyles.
I had never heard of OSMI before I read your post! It’s good to see that you’re advocating for so many workers who may not be seeking mental health resources due to concerns about stigma and discrimination. Like you wrote, happier and healthier workers have better job performance and foster a more positive work environment. Mental healthcare has its place in our job site just as much as it does in our personal lives.
Keep up the great advocacy!
Thanks Richard Michael for reading! Glad you appreciate the message (: