Before I dive into our Mental Health Initiative, I'll tell you how it came to exist. Leading up to our annual team retreat, I send a team survey to discover what excites or worries people. The questions change year to year, but here are what appear to be the perennial questions. I'll include the majority response from the team to each item as well.
- If you could make one significant change to our company, without worrying about consequences, what would you change? Generating subscription revenue to buffer the ups and downs of client services work.
- What's the one thing you find more motivating to your work than anything else? Recognition for a job well-done.
- What's the most significant opportunity we're missing with our clients that we should be focused on? Having a support and maintenance offering.
This survey has had a significant impact on where we've put our focus and attention this year. We've created a support and maintenance offering and continue to find ways to celebrate our team for all the hard work and effort they put into their projects. But when I asked the question about making one change to our company, a couple of people responded with "better support for mental health." Having recently attended DrupalCorn in Iowa and listening to J.D. Flynn's inspiring and courageous presentation "Erasing the Stigma, Mental Health in Tech," I worried that we might not be doing enough, but I also didn't know if it was a problem—because we don't talk much about mental illness.
There's a stigma connected to mental illness, even when it's a sickness...not a weakness. Thinking of mental illness as a weakness is like telling someone who is wearing glasses that they aren't looking hard enough and shouldn't need glasses in the first place. As a company, it makes sense to help your team stay healthy, happy, and reduce the number of sick days people need to take. Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders all actively work to undermine performance and contribute to burnout. Burnout is awful.
1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness within a given year.