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7 mental health benefits you should offer your security team

It’s time to change the course of mental health in cybersecurity.

7 mental health benefits you should offer your security team
[baranq / Adobe Stock]

Forty-six percent of security professionals say their workplace does not prioritize their mental health. Is your organization one of them?

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More companies are placing higher importance on mental health and wellness these days and are having much-needed conversations around resources, awareness, and support to help their employees be their authentic selves and do their best work.

But where does the conversation stand in cybersecurity? In an already challenging environment made more stressful by increasing threats, remote work complexities, and a talent shortage, are security leaders aware of how their teams are doing on an individual level? Are teams buoyed up by mental health support, resources, and wellness strategies, or are teams already struggling?

THE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM IN SECURITY TODAY 

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Security leaders may assume that their teams are doing fine, but there are concerning insights to suggest otherwise.

Cybersecurity is already a stressful profession, as security teams face increasing threats and incidents—more than 900 cyberattacks a week—and those attackers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods. But security teams are also impacted by inefficient processes and procedures, outdated tools, and other hindrances. There’s also the direct impact of the pandemic—the WHO found a 25% increase in anxiety and depression due to the pandemic—as well as its indirect effects on security teams, such as challenges created by the move to remote work.

The above factors are likely why 66% of security professionals report experiencing some level of stress from their work, and 63% saw their stress levels increase over the past year. They’re also likely why 27% of security professionals—one out of four—reported that their mental health has gotten worse over the past year.

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When ranking their own mental health, 26% of security professionals say it’s excellent, 21% say it’s very good, and 20% rank it as good, for a combined total of 67%. This number, though, is much lower than the 81% of U.S. adults who also ranked their mental health as excellent or good, according to Gallup’s annual health survey. Not only are security professionals self-rating their mental health lower than Gallup’s standard, but 17% of security professionals—nearly one out of every five—ranked their mental health as poor.

So what can leaders do to address these concerns and slow the rising mental health crisis in cybersecurity? Branded stress balls aren’t going to alleviate mental health concerns in your organization. Here are seven ways you can give your employees effective resources with which to manage their mental health and wellness.

#1. EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (EAP)

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An Employee Assistance Program is a resource giving assistance to employees across a variety of areas in which employees have problems or concerns both at work or in their personal lives. Resources may include counseling, a 24-hour mental health helpline, guidance on substance abuse, and even nutrition coaching. EAP resources can be offered as part of an employee’s benefits, and are confidential.

#2. HEALTH INSURANCE

Providing health insurance benefits can go a long way in helping employees get the care they need—from annual physicals to mental health services including counseling, medication, and even patient treatment. Just having health insurance can provide peace of mind to employees, too, knowing that they’ll be covered if something happens to them or their dependents.

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#3. WELLNESS BREAKS 

Another way to prioritize mental health is to have wellness breaks. This may be as simple as different departments hosting coffee and encouraging staff to attend. Maybe it’s setting up a wellness lounge for an afternoon where employees can play some games, do a creative project, or just be still. Maybe it’s inviting therapy dogs to visit the office once a quarter. These activities may be fun, but they also encourage taking a break from the rush of work for a little while.

#4. PTO, FLEXIBLE WORK, AND MENTAL HEALTH DAYS

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Another way to increase mental health and wellness is by offering employees paid time off or a flexible work schedule. Encourage employees to take sick days, and enable them to take mental health days as well. Additionally, give employees the option of having a flexible work arrangement outside of a strict 9-to-5—maybe it’s the option of working remotely, adjusting their hours, or an alternative that can reduce stress and strain.

#5. DISCOUNTS ON WELLNESS ACTIVITIES AND APPS

Many organizations offer discounted or free gym memberships, knowing that physical health can help improve mental health as well. Organizations can also offer allowances, discounts, or memberships to other wellness activities like yoga classes or cooking classes. Encourage healthier commuting by giving perks to employees who ride their bikes. Offer meditation, breathing, and other de-stressing apps to employees free of charge as well.

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#6. STRESS MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP TRAINING

Managers tend to know their employees well, and should be educated on how to pick up on mental health concerns affecting an employe. Offer training to leaders on how to address mental health questions and conversation, and equip them with the knowledge of what resources are available to employees so that they can point the way.

#7. MORE CONVERSATION 

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Finally, the best resource to provide is more conversation around the topic of mental health in the workplace. Normalize talking about mental health concerns to take the stigma out of asking for help. A Harvard Business Review survey found that the “resource” most desired by employees was a more open culture around mental health.

PRIORITIZING MENTAL HEALTH

To have only 54% of security professionals say that their workplace prioritizes their mental health is not good enough. Become an organization that values its employees and their well-being by offering resources and benefits to support mental health, normalize the conversation around mental health, and build a culture of wellness. It’s time to change the course of mental health in cybersecurity.

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Founder at Tines, a platform that allows anyone to automate repetitive security workflows without writing a single line of code.

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