The Struggle of Mental Health in Tech

By Mark Bates

Elevator Pitch

In this talk a prominent member of the Go community discusses their struggle with mental illness and how it affected work, OSS, and more.


This talk focuses on the last year of my life and how I did all the wrong things for my mental well being, as well as how my job and FOSS work became destructive forces instead of positive ones. I will present how an unstructured working environment at home, and the self-imposed pressures of FOSS, led me to a nervous breakdown culminating in admission to a hospital. According to the WHO, 1 in 4 people have some sort of mental health issue, yet most go unrecognized and untreated; I was one of those people. I will be brutally honest and frank when discussing my illness, its causes, and how it affected my life and work.

The tech industry, and the Go community especially, tend to work remotely and only interact with each other online. This isolation from each other can make the symptoms of mental illness worse and without interaction with others, those symptoms continue to grow and can become destructive, not just professionally, but also in our personal lives.

I recently wrote a successful blog post discussing this issue, and from that I had several people reach out saying they were now seeking help for themselves, or for others. This talk has the same goal, to help people see and understand the warning signs in themselves and those around them, not to gain sympathy for myself. I can’t offer a “magic pill” or something as simple as “do this and you’ll be fine”, but rather, I hope to shine a light on a growing problem in our community that needs to be discussed openly, honestly, and frankly. And, by seeing a prominent member of the community discuss their struggles, I’m hoping others are inspired to get the help they need.

Topics that will be covered:

  • Symptoms and signs of trouble
  • Understanding the potential dangers of working remotely
  • Looking at how FOSS can impact mental health
  • How to manage working from home
  • How to manage FOSS work
  • Coping techniques