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During this global pandemic, we’ve found that it’s been a tough time for many people, with a variety of challenges that can weigh heavy on their mental health.

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, on average, people are working longer hours than before. The number of meetings have increased by 13% since the lockdown and shift to predominately remote work.

Many of the challenges people have faced include:

  • Increased burnout from overwork
  • Increased responsibilities at home related to child care needs
  • Uncertainty around returning to normal
  • Inability to shut off from work and set appropriate boundaries
  • Overlooking self-care, including both physical and mental health
  • Isolation due to working from home without direct in-person interaction

As fall approaches, we will see an increase in challenges, such as:

  • School returning under new models that require distance learning, putting additional stress on parents
  • Cold weather will make it more challenging for people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors

With all of this certainty, it really feels a lot like a free-for-all that’s just out of control. We understand that and believe, as an organization, it’s important to recognize the real challenges employees face. We want to encourage our team and others to follow in providing the time needed for teammates to take care of their personal mental health and physical needs, family needs, and childcare needs, and do everything within our means to help each other during this uncertain time.

One way at Blumira we believe we can help our team under these unique circumstances is by creating a culture that encourages each other to take time off from work to prioritize themselves and those around them. With this new strategy, we are committed to helping our team by encouraging everyone to take a 4-hour break from work each week so they can take care of their personal needs. We encourage other team members and companies to follow suit by sharing their stories on what they did with the 4-hours and what impact it’s made on their week. We call it “Free-4-All!”

What is “Free-4-All?”

Free-4-All is a way to encourage employees to take care of themselves during the current uncertain times related to COVID-19 to help prevent burnout, stress, anxiety, and mental health problems. By encouraging all employees to take four hours for themselves each week, we can help each other, share our success and grow together while taking care of those around us.

We believe that this is the right approach to take and hope to see other companies follow suit.

Mental Health Hackers

One resource to help bolster mental health awareness in the information security community is Mental Health Hackers, a nonprofit organization led by Blumira’s Sr. Incident Detection Engineer, Amanda Berlin.

Mental Health Hackers seeks to educate the public, particularly information security professionals, about the unique mental health risks and problems faced by information security professionals and other heavy users of technology, and how to reduce those risks and cope with those problems; to provide support services to them and other heavy users of technology who suffer from mental health issues related to heavy use of technology, such as anxiety, depression, social isolation, and eating disorders.

We continue to see the benefits of providing an open dialogue around mental health challenges in the community. Others are finding that they are not alone, and their co-workers, family, friends, and other community members are sometimes dealing with a lot of the same challenges. Reducing the stigma and having more conversation around these topics has started to show as more employers are also increasing or starting new initiatives to provide better care for the mental health of their employees. – Amanda Berlin, CEO of Mental Health Hackers & Sr. Incident Detection Engineer at Blumira

Most recently, they held a Black Hat meetup to discuss burnout and anxiety with Dr. Heather Eisele, Ph. D. Follow them on Twitter to get involved or stay up-to-date on upcoming meetups and events.

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