We’ve done this a number of times over the last decade, from OSDC to LCA. The idea is to provide a free psychologist or counsellor at an in-person conference. Attendees can do an anonymous booking by taking a stickynote (with the timeslot) from a signup sheet, and thus get a free appointment.
Many people find it difficult taking the first (very important) step towards getting professional help, and we’ve received good feedback that this approach indeed assists.
So far we’ve always focused on open source conferences. Now we’re moving into information security! First BrisSEC 2022 (Friday 29 April at the Hilton in Brisbane, QLD) and then AusCERT 2022 (10-13 May at the Star Hotel, Gold Coast QLD). The awesome and geek friendly Dr Carla Rogers will be at both events.
How does this get funded? Well, we’ve crowdfunded some, nudged sponsors, most mostly it gets picked up by the conference organisers (aka indirectly by the sponsors, mostly).
If you’re a conference organiser, or would like a particular upcoming conference to offer this service, do drop us a line and we’re happy to chase it up for you and help the organisers to make it happen. We know how to run that now.
In-person is best. But for virtual conferences, sure contact us as well.
Why that particular date? It’s Vincent van Gogh’s birthday (1853), and there is a fairly strong argument that the Dutch painter suffered from bipolar (among other things).
The image on the side is Vincent’s drawing “Worn Out” (from 1882), and it seems to capture the feeling rather well – whether (hypo)manic, depressed, or mixed. It’s exhausting.
Bipolar is complicated, often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and when only treated with anti-depressants, it can trigger the (hypo)mania – essentially dragging that person into that state near-permanently.
Have you heard of Bipolar II?
Hypo-mania is the “lesser” form of mania that distinguishes Bipolar I (the classic “manic depressive” syndrome) from Bipolar II. It’s “lesser” only in the sense that rather than someone going so hyper they may think they can fly (Bipolar I is often identified when someone in manic state gets admitted to hospital – good catch!) while with Bipolar II the hypo-mania may actually exhibit as anger. Anger in general, against nothing in particular but potentially everyone and everything around them. Or, if it’s a mixed episode, anger combined with strong negative thoughts. Either way, it does not look like classic mania. It is, however, exhausting and can be very debilitating.
Bipolar II people often present to a doctor while in depressed state, and GPs (not being psychiatrists) may not do a full diagnosis. Note that D.A.S. and similar test sheets are screening tools, they are not diagnostic. A proper diagnosis is more complex than filling in a form some questions (who would have thought!)
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If you have a diagnosis of depression, only from a GP, and are on medication for this, I would strongly recommend you also get a referral to a psychiatrist to confirm that diagnosis.
Our friends at the awesome Black Dog Institute have excellent information on bipolar, as well as a quick self-test – if that shows some likelihood of bipolar, go get that referral and follow up ASAP.
I will be writing more about the topic in the coming time.
BlueHackers has in the past arranged for a free counsellor/psychologist at several conferences (LCA, OSDC). Given the popularity and great reception of this service, we want to make this a regular thing and try to get this service available at every conference possible – well, at least Australian open source and related events.
Right now we’re trying to arrange for the service to be available at LCA2020 at the Gold Coast, we have excellent local psychologists already, and the LCA organisers are working on some of the logistical aspects.
Meanwhile, we need to get the funds organised. Fortunately this has never been a problem with BlueHackers, people know this is important stuff. We can make a real difference.
Unfortunately BlueHackers hasn’t yet completed its transition from OSDClub project to Linux Australia subcommittee, so this fundraiser is running in my personal name. Well, you know who I (Arjen) am, so I hope you’re ok all with that.
We have a little over a week until LCA2020 starts, let’s make this happen! Thanks. You can donate via MyCause.
Jamie Pride has partnered with Swinburne University and Dr Bronwyn Eager to conduct the largest mental health and well-being survey of Australian entrepreneurs and founders. This survey will take approx 5 minutes to complete. Can you also please spread the word and share this via your networks!
Getting current and relevant Australian data is extremely important! The findings of this study will contribute to the literature on mental health and well-being in entrepreneurs, and that this will potentially lead to future improvements in the prevention and treatment of psychological distress.
Jamie is extremely passionate about this cause! Your help is greatly appreciated.
Janet Hawtin Reid (@lucychili) sadly passed away last week.
A mutual friend called me a earlier in the week to tell me, for which I’m very grateful. We both appreciate that BlueHackers doesn’t ever want to be a news channel, so I waited writing about it here until other friends, just like me, would have also had a chance to hear via more direct and personal channels. I think that’s the way these things should flow.
I knew Janet as a thoughtful person, with strong opinions particularly on openness and inclusion. And as an artist and generally creative individual, a lover of nature. In recent years I’ve also seen her produce the most awesome knitted Moomins.
Short diversion as I have an extra connection with the Moomin stories by Tove Jansson: they have a character called My, after whom Monty Widenius’ eldest daughter is named, which in turn is how MySQL got named. I used to work for MySQL AB, and I’ve known that My since she was a little smurf (she’s an adult now).
I’m not sure exactly when I met Janet, but it must have been around 2004 when I first visited Adelaide for Linux.conf.au. It was then also that Open Source Industry Australia (OSIA) was founded, for which Janet designed the logo. She may well have been present at the founding meeting in Adelaide’s CBD, too. Anyhow, Janet offered to do the logo in a conversation with David Lloyd, and things progressed from there. On the OSIA logo design, Janet wrote:
I’ve used a star as the current one does [an earlier doodle incorporated the Southern Cross]. The 7 points for 7 states [counting NT as a state]. The feet are half facing in for collaboration and half facing out for being expansive and progressive.
You may not have realised this as the feet are quite stylised, but you’ll definitely have noticed the pattern-of-7, and the logo as a whole works really well. It’s a good looking and distinctive logo that has lasted almost a decade and a half now.
As Linux Australia’s president Kathy Reid wrote, Janet also helped design the ‘penguin feet’ logo that you see on Linux.org.au. Just reading the above (which I just retrieved from a 2004 email thread) there does seem to be a bit of a feet-pattern there… of course the explicit penguin feet belong with the Linux penguin.
So, Linux Australia and OSIA actually share aspects of their identity (feet with a purpose), through their respective logo designs by Janet! Mind you, I only realised all this when looking through old stuff while writing this post, as the logos were done at different times and only a handful of people have ever read the rationale behind the OSIA logo until now. I think it’s cool, and a fabulous visual legacy.
Which brings me to a related issue that’s close to my heart, and I’ve written and spoken about this before. We’re losing too many people in our community – where, in case you were wondering, too many is defined as >0. Just like in a conversation on the road toll, any number greater than zero has to be regarded as unacceptable. Zero must be the target, as every individual life is important.
There are many possible analogies with trees as depicted in the above artwork, including the fact that we’re all best enabled to grow further.
Please connect with the people around you. Remember that connecting does not necessarily mean talking per-se, as sometimes people just need to not talk, too. Connecting, just like the phrase “I see you” from Avatar, is about being thoughtful and aware of other people. It can just be a simple hello passing by (I say hi to “strangers” on my walks), a short email or phone call, a hug, or even just quietly being present in the same room.
We all know that you can just be in the same room as someone, without explicitly interacting, and yet feel either connected or disconnected. That’s what I’m talking about. Aim to be connected, in that real, non-electronic, meaning of the word.
If you or someone you know needs help or talk right now, please call 1300 659 467 (in Australia – they can call you back, and you can also use the service online). There are many more resources and links on the BlueHackers.org website. Take care.
Right now, one in seven new fathers experiences high levels of psychological distress and as many as one in ten experience depression or anxiety. Often distressed fathers remain unidentified and unsupported due to both a reluctance to seek help for themselves and low levels of community understanding that the transition to parenthood is a difficult period for fathers, as well as mothers.
The project is hoping to both increase understanding of stress and distress in new fathers and encourage new fathers to take action to manage their mental health.
This work is being informed by research commissioned by beyondblue into men’s experiences of psychological distress in the perinatal period.
Informed by the findings of the Healthy Dads research, three projects are underway to provide men with the knowledge, tools and support to stay resilient during the transition to fatherhood.
Benjamin Cardullo writes about an issue that we really have to take (more) seriously. Particularly with mobile devices enabling us to be “connected” 24/7, being busy (or available) all of that time is not a good thing at all.
How do we measure professional success? Is it by the location of our office or the size of our paycheck? Is it measured by the dimensions of our home or the speed of our car? Ten years ago, those would have been the most prominent answers; however, today when someone is really pulling out the big guns, when they really want to show you how important they are, they’ll tell you all about their busy day and how they never had a moment to themselves.