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“You okay? Everything alright at home?”

October 20, 2017

“You okay? Everything alright at home?”

For driven, ambitious people, acknowledging a mental health issue can be tough — no one wants to reveal their imperfections, especially in highly competitive environments.

Mental health issues are often stigmatised as a weakness. But they can result from what, during the best circumstances, can be personal strengths, such as a great capacity for empathy, a sense of personal responsibility or even being highly creative.

Labs has sought to create an office culture that differs from more conventional work environments, one that acknowledges mental health is as much part of office wellness as ergonomics and exercise. That starts with having a flexible working environment that responds to employee needs, and includes a healthcare package that covers counseling and therapy.

Labs actively addresses mental health issues. HR uses tools, such as OfficeVibe, to help monitor work conditions and improve job satisfaction. Programmes such as yoga and meditation are given time and space within the workplace, too.

And every employee, irrespective of health plan, has access to a 24-hour anonymous helpline (contact OrgDev for this number). The helpline can guide employees through nearly any crisis — financial, legal, family or health. Those opting for the Labs health-plan should contact their GP to receive an open referral for a local, private mental health provider.

Outside Labs, there are many organisations to turn to for information and guidance. Among these are Time To Change and the Mental Health Foundation. Or you can find community support through if-me.org, an open source community for sharing mental health experience. And, specific to tech workers, is the non-profit Open Source for Mental Illness (OSMI), dedicated to raising awareness, educating, and providing resources to support mental wellness within the tech and open source community.

If apps are your prefered medium of self care, there are numerous options to connect you with mental health services, community and advice. Among these are 7 Cups, a free, anonymous online text chat with trained listeners, online therapists and counselors, and Talkspace, a subscription app that provides users with video access to online, licensed therapists.

No one should try to remedy a mental health issue on their own, any more than they would treat a broken leg by themselves. When feeling overwhelmed, don't struggle in silence. Reach out to a friend, colleague, or line manager. Or contact your local GP.

One in four of us face mental health problems each year. Labs aims to provide tools, support and resources to deal with those issues. But one of the most effective means of support is simply being there for each other, asking if everything is alright and sharing your personal experiences. So speak up. Don’t hesitate to check in with a colleague and make sure they’re doing okay.