With Blue Monday forcing people to take stock of what’s happening in their lives, IT professionals have come under increasing focus as they struggle with mental health problems.
After a significant rise in demand for digital services throughout the pandemic, a recent survey has revealed that nearly half (44%) of tech workers’ mental health has been affected since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. Another study saw 71% of IT professionals say their productivity is affected by mental health issues, with 57% reporting cases of burnout.
“While today is a prominent day in the calendar that can force people to take stock, it’s important to remember that mental health is very much a year-round issue that affects everyone,” said Nabila Salem, President of cloud talent specialists Revolent. “Tech can be an incredibly high-pressure environment, which is why prioritising wellbeing and mental health should be a major part of your working life, 365 days a year.”
The tech sector is already facing a skills shortage that is on the brink of a crisis, and statistics such as a quarter of Salesforce professionals working outside of their contracted hours suggests the problem could get worse before it begins to improve. Not only can this result in demotivating staff, but it also results in employee burnout.
What you can do to avoid burnout
Collaborating with Revolent to help combat mental health issues in the workplace, Hilary Sims, of Life Balancing Counselling, advised that there are some quick-wins that professionals can implement themselves to help avoid burning out. “Workers can reduce the potential of burnout by setting their schedule for the day and sticking to it,” she says. “This can include setting start and finish times, as well as breaks and lunchtimes. I know a lot of people find this difficult but if they don’t do it, they are on the slippery road to no return.”
Michaela Thomas, Clinical Psychologist at The Thomas Connection added that ‘restoring your energy levels is another key component to avoiding burnout and improving wellbeing. “Recharge your batteries before they drain fully,” she said. “Finding fulfilling activities outside of work can help you base your self-worth on more than just your professional achievements, and help you live a life according to your own values.”
Sims agreed with the importance of this period, and to dedicating time to your own wellbeing, adding that “the computer and phone should be off during this time. Employers can also support their employees by giving them gym memberships or time out to be able to exercise whilst at work, as not everyone can do it after work.”
The end result, according to Salem, is mutually beneficial. “While supporting your employees and encouraging better physical and mental health is fundamentally the right thing to do, the benefits for anyone who takes notice are wide-ranging. Businesses have more productive staff who enjoy their day a lot more, while those professionals who’d previously been under pressure live happier, healthier lives.”
And while all employers should have a support network in place for those who are struggling, external help is always available from organizations, such as The Samaritans.