Q&A with Tech Lead Jacob Spencer - mental health in technology
Published August 30, 2023 by Adam Boulahlib – Head of Delivery
In June, our Tech Lead Jacob Spencer gave a presentation at Umbraco tech conference Codegarden on mental health in technology. The presentation was part of dotcentric’s campaign to raise awareness of the challenges facing tech workers, who are five times more likely to suffer from a mental health problem, compared to the wider population.
I sat down with Jacob to discuss the topic of his Codegarden talk to find out how we're addressing these challenges.
Q: In June you spoke at Codegarden about mental health in technology. Why did you decide on that subject?
The tech industry has a high proportion of workers who have suffered from mental health problems. Also, there is a gender imbalance, with a higher representation of men, and the topic of mental health is challenging for men to discuss openly.
We want to help break down those barriers starting with the stigmatism around it. Codegarden gave us an opportunity to address a large audience and increase awareness about this crucial matter. At technology conferences most of the discussions revolve around technical aspects, but people wanted to attend my talk because they can see that it’s a subject that applies to everyone.
Codegarden has an audience of 1,700, and these are people with different backgrounds and job roles. There are product managers, marketing managers, QA and account managers, so it really did open the doors to a wider audience.
We were able to talk to them about the risk factors of burnout and how companies can become more mental health aware; that is the first step towards breaking down those barriers of awareness and we're already seeing the fruits of that.
Q: How will our mental health campaign have a positive impact on people working in the technology sector?
Big companies are enrolling their employees on training programs to become mental health first aiders. Well-established technology publications have emphasised the significance of this initiative, and our presentation at Codegarden received an enthusiastic response.
So, continuing the conversation is vital, especially now that hybrid working and working from home is commonplace, which can lead to employee isolation.
Our campaign has the potential to create a more supportive and productive work environment, which would benefit employees and the organisation.
Q: How has dotcentric helped support this initiative?
At dotcentric we’re going through a period of growth, which means we want to enhance our staff well-being and create a positive working culture where people want to stay.
As a result of our project with Mental Health First Aid England, we were given the chance to provide specialised training to members of our team, turning them into certified Mental Health First Aiders.
We then set up other initiatives, such as a month-long step challenge and a mental health workshop, that would help everyone at the agency feel free to talk openly about how they are feeling and create a culture where support is on hand.
If you would like to learn more about dotcentric’s wellbeing policies and agency culture, don't hesitate to get in touch.