Mental Health in The Tech World
MENTAL HEALTH IN TECH – THE INVISIBLE ENEMY
After such a turbulent year, we thought it especially important to tackle the topic of the challenges that everyday life and work pressure pose on our mental health.
Will Falkowski has worked as a Developer for 17 years for some great brands across multiple industries; retail, legal, finance, space to name a few.
From his own personal experience and that of supporting others in tech who have suffered from mental health issues, Will has an extensive understanding of the topic and has founded JustaFriend.nl, a voluntary service supporting professionals in the industry.
In our latest podcast with Lewis Adams-Dunstan, Will tackles this difficult but important subject with heartfelt honesty as well as lighthearted humour, covering:
✅ His journey as a developer and his own struggles with mental health.
✅ Imposter syndrome.
✅ The Highs Vs the Lows.
✅ How to spot a burnout.
✅ Just a Friend
✅ Advice for anyone that might not know where to turn.
Lewis: Kind of bringing this to the technology world, then I think you’re in a small group of people and I say it’s small because it really is that are quite outgoing or at least you give the perception that you’re confident. I guess you can tell me otherwise if that’s wrong. But technologists in general, especially developers or engineers, just aren’t very good at communicating. And in an environment where, I guess front-end and creative environments are a little bit more communitive and collaborative. But if you’re looking at back-end developers, a lot of times they don’t talk to each other at all and they’ll sit in a dark room, a quite depressing room and just code all day. And they’re starting to build these emotions and they don’t really understand them and they don’t really know where to go with them or how to talk about them and they slip very, quickly into depression. I’m keen to know about your experiences because you’ve taken on a lot of pressure, you’ve tried to build your own business, you’ve got people reporting to you and expecting a lot from you. What kind of happened there? What was the journey there?
Will: So going back on to the developing thing, I mean, I’m writing an article at the moment called How to Be an Empathetic Developer. And as there’s a couple of things. One is imposter syndrome it’s a sickness in the industry. I suffer from it for sure because I started off not being trained developer at college or university. So I had heavy imposter syndrome, I thought any moment now they’ll discover that I’m a fraud and that creates arrogance, that creates anxiety, depression. And a lot of people have this I speak to people all the time and it’s something I like to talk about with them. And one sure fire way to bring out the imposter in you. I don’t get it anymore, to be honest, it’s been 17, 18 years. You know, I can just do it. But there’s still things I don’t know. And you still get a little bit of a tweak every now and then. But sometimes we do pair programming where one person sits down and the other person sits by you and want to do is I’m writing an article on how to be an empathetic developer which I’m going to put out before the end of the year. And it really is a little thing about how to pair program properly and how to not make the person with the keyboard feel anxious and not make them feel belittled again and also how to be productive with it. And so what I like to think about it is one person has the policy or I like just the brain. And what you get with pair programming is you get one guy, let’s say, me tapping away, but I might have a flow and the other person hasn’t connected with that flow yet. But there might be another solution. And so the other person will be like, no, and they feel like they are backseat driving. And that’s that kills you That’s just like get out of here and throw your laptop, up in the air. And it’s a really painful experience. But one person should just pair a program and the other person waits for the flow to finish doesn’t work. And rather than correct them as they’re typing, like indicating or like a gearstick or whatever, it’s waiting or the flow to finish. And then before they try and compile it or deploy or something, they go. There was two or three things in that file or we should go back to that, you know, and have collected the information. But too often people sit down with each other and be like click it, no colon open bracket about it. I’m working on the flow and I think this is something which is really important. And it can it kills a lot of people in the industry, like a lot of people really. They struggle with that and including myself, especially for the first part, my career.