How developers improve their mental health

According to a recent joint news release by the World Health Organization (WHO), United for Global Mental Health, and the World Federation for Mental Health, almost 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder. That’s a lot of people. “Mental disorder” sounds scary, but the term means a disorder that affects your mood, thinking, and behavior, which includes depression and anxiety. Improving mental health—and increasing the investment into mental health—is the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day, observed on Oct. 10.

Here at Intuit®, we recognize the toll COVID-19 has taken on our personal and professional lives, adding another layer to the stresses everyone faces daily. We believe that it’s vital we discuss ways you can effectively deal with these ongoing challenges for your overall happiness and success.

In an Intuit Twitter poll, we asked developers how they improved their mental health. Here are the results.

Improving mental health

Per the 4,008 respondents, here are the three things they do to improve their mental health: exercise, spend time with family/friends, and take time off—though not necessarily in that order. In fact, time off came in second with 26%, exercise came in third with 18.5%, and spending time with family/friends came in fourth place with 10.7%.

The number one method for improving mental health? “All of the above” at 44.8%.

These are definitely effective methods. However, the question is, what may be causing you as a developer to feel stress, depression, or anxiety? There are a few potential reasons. High expectations to produce fast solutions to complex problems, constant pressure (whether from yourself or an outside source) to be the best, irregular sleep patterns, isolation, imposter syndrome, and overcommitment, to name a few.

If you feel like you may be mentally exhausted due to these reasons or some others not listed, then you’re not alone in the developer community. In 2020, a Harvey Nash Tech found that half of tech professionals said they were or had in the past been concerned about their mental health. It’s easy to surmise that percentage may be even higher.

In addition to exercise, spending time with family/friends, and taking time off, what else can you do to improve your mental health? Here are a few suggestions by Mental Health America (MHA):

  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • Begin the day with coffee (apparently coffee is linked to lower rates of depression – and green tea works, too).
  • Take the first step in improving a situation.
  • Laugh.
  • Disconnect from technology for a day.
  • Try something new.

These are just six of 25 more practical suggestions by MHA for improving mental health.

Practice self-care, alongside Intuit

Intuit, #11 on Fortune’s World’s 25 Best Workplaces list for 2020, is passionate about powering prosperity for their customers and employees. In concert with World Mental Health Day, we want to promote mental health awareness and support our developer community.

One example of how we have supported our consumer and small business communities is through our COVID-19 response, including deferring repayment for QuickBooks® Capital customers, assisting QuickBooks customers applying for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, and donating money to organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For employees, we are offering temporary time-off benefits for employees who are working from home, and may need to care for family members or are having remote working challenges. We have also continued to pay our front-line hourly workers, including security officers, the building operations team, mail services team, food service team, and other onsite service providers.

Brinda Sivalingam, an Intuit developer, gives another example in her post Why I love being an Intuit developer. She writes, “Intuit gives us two full weeks to work on our pet projects and show them off during the gallery walks.” Intuit also believes in work/life flexibility, something Intuit developer Ramya Kasaraneni highlighted in her recent post about why she loves being an Intuit developer, “Although it’s always a challenge to maintain a perfect balance, my work/life balance boils down to prioritizing, and Intuit’s flexibility lets me do just that.”

Ramya also notes that Intuit provides a 24/7 gym facility on campus; offers a network of childcare, pet care, and other services; and encourages the celebrating of birthdays or big launches and advocates fun quarterly activities.

Ultimately, improving mental health improves happiness and your overall success. If you’d like to read more about mental health in the tech community, check out Open Sourcing Mental Illness, a nonprofit corporation “raising awareness, educating, and providing resources to support mental wellness in the tech and open source communities.”