Erasing the Stigma: Mental Illness in Tech

Many developers, including myself, deal with mental health issues, yet mental health in the developer community is often overlooked, hidden, or swept under the rug. Too many of us suffer in silence and end up hurting our professional and personal relationships, or even worse, ourselves.

What can be done to help de-stigmatize mental health issues? How can we, as a community, band together to help those of us with mental health issues feel more welcome in tech? Together, we can work to Erase the Stigma associated with mental illness.

In this session, I will be telling my story of dealing with mental illness as a developer and how they affected my career, my productivity, and my professional connections. I will also be presenting statistics comparing the tech community to the general public in terms of incidence of mental illness, behavior, and how it affects the workplace. We will also talk about available resources for employees and employers, how to be a more supportive person or coworker, and what we can do as a community to Erase the Stigma and become Stronger Than Fear.

The only knowledge required prior to attending this session is to know that you want to learn more about mental illness in the tech community.

Attendees should leave knowing resources available for helping to deal with mental illness in the workplace and, hopefully, have a better understanding that a mental illness is not a character flaw, but part of a person.

Audience Level
Beginner
Topic
Other
Timeslot
11:30am - 12:30pm
Room
Gaige Classroom 201
Speakers
Profile picture for user Dorf
Genuine
Drupal Technical Architect

JD Flynn has had mental illness most of his life, but didn't admit it until his early 30s when he decided it was time to do something about it. After a decade-long career in emergency services as a paramedic, JD made the jump from the ambulance to the text editor. Since then, JD worked up to the title of Drupal Architect out of Chicago. He's active in the local Drupal community by helping to organize MidCamp, the Midwest Drupal Camp held annually in Chicago and is a co-organizer of the Drupal Chicago Meetup Group.

His life was changed by OSMI (Open Sourcing Mental Illness), a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on opening the conversation on mental illness, which led him to telling his own story to as many people who would listen. As someone with mental illness who is not afraid to talk about it, JD has presented on the topic of Mental Illness in the Tech Community to local user groups, regional conferences, and national level events at locations such as MIT, UC Berkeley, Washington State Convention Center, Guaranteed Rate Field, and DePaul University.

When not speaking or coding, JD plays baritone saxophone in Windiana, a professional level wind ensemble out of Valparaiso, IN, and Michigan City Municipal Band, the oldest municipal band in Indiana that is currently performing its 151st season.