Continuous Improvement: DevOps and Mental Health

A presentation at DevOpsDays Seattle 2022 in in Seattle, WA, USA by fen aldrich

Dealing with any neuro-diversity is difficult and stigmatized, but lessons learned from DevOps and Complex Systems management have helped me improve how I handle situations. These lessons can be applied broadly and shift our thinking to how DevOps extends beyond tech alone. Mental illness is stigmatized and hard to talk about publicly. Doubly so in the tech industry where we assign much of our personal value to our brains. I want to share my struggles with mental health and the lessons I’ve learned from Systems operation and DevOps that have helped me get by and frame my struggle in a manageable way.

I want to start a conversation to:

  • Help reduce the stigma of Mental Illness by talking about it
  • Provide some illustration of things that have helped me, so hopefully they can help you
  • Show how the concepts of DevOps have application reaching beyond High Technology
  • Spark further conversation about Mental health in tech
  • Hopefully provide a new group and community for those for whom mental health is a concern



The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.

  • Open Sourcing Mental Health

    Changing how we talk about mental health in the tech community — Stronger than fear.

    Excellent resource for mental health in tech/the work place. Research tab contains links to past and present mental health surveys.

  • Mental Health First Aid (USA)

    First response training for Mental Health. Learn, teach, donate.

  • Emotional API

    Amazing resource from John Sawers about your “emotional API”. The bad news: it’s publicly accessible. The good news: you can refactor it. Seriously check out this talk if anything I say to you resonates.

  • How to ADHD: “Why is it so hard to do something that should be easy?” (The Wall of Awful: Part one)

    This is the first video in the two-part segment on “The Wall of Awful”. This put so much into perspective for me and helps me on a daily basis, just by having the concept in mind. Watch this one! (And all of Jessica’s videos, they’re seriously great and easy to digest especially for, you know, the target audience.)

  • How to ADHD: “How to do something that should be easy (but…is…not)” (The Wall of Awful: Part two)

    Part Two of the Wall of Awful videos. Watch part one first. Go on to consume additional content from this channel because Jessica is great at distilling problems, Current Research, and Things That Worked for Her in the realm of dealing with ADHD and deserves every additional bit of success here.

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