25 Mar 2024
by Nell O'Neill

The Impact of Psychological Safety on Mental Health in the Tech Industry

You might have heard of the 2016 OSMI study: it indicates that people in the Tech industry are significantly more likely to be suffering with mental illness. Post COVID-19 pandemic, and amidst the broader VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) environment, the common consensus seems to be that the mental health crisis isn’t getting any better. (Luthans F, Broad JD). When looking to solve a crisis, people often jump to the newest technological advancements. For example, Machine Learning risk models are currently being developed to ‘greatly aid the processes of early detection and diagnosis of mental health issues’ (Shatte ABR, Hutchinson DM, Teague SJ). Whilst this is amazing news for the future, it doesn’t really do much for right now.

So what do companies do today to benefit employee's mental health? We propose that nurturing psychologically safe teams within tech companies could significantly address mental health challenges in the industry.

Establishing an environment where individuals feel empowered to share may sound like a familiar concept, especially since mental health advocacy surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, ‘the overall discussion […] has reduced post-pandemic’, and employees still hesitate to discuss mental health at work. Shockingly, a Paychex survey found that ‘54% of employees reported to have felt uncomfortable discussing mental health with their supervisors or managers’ and ‘29% of employees feared that discussion about their mental health issues might affect their promotion.’ (Mitravinda KM, Nair DS, Srinivasa G). In addition, ‘for those who have not disclosed their diagnosis, there can be a continuing fear that someone will find out, and a fear of the consequences.’ (Thornicroft G`) These statistics underscore the critical need for psychologically safe spaces where employees feel comfortable sharing their mental health symptoms or experiences.

Moving forward, how can companies signal to their teams that it's safe to share? A practical solution lies in developing interpersonal relationship intelligence. This involves creating an environment where open and transparent communication thrives. To begin with, this may look like:

  • Creating a safe space that promotes inclusion and diversity of thought.
  • Promote learning on, and the development of, emotional intelligence and self-awareness. This involves understanding one's motivations and personal drivers, recognising emotions in others, and understanding the impact one has on others.
  • Ensuring that conflicts are handled appropriately by fostering open and constructive discussions that maintain a respectful, supportive and positive atmosphere.

Leaders play a big role in creating this kind of environment. When leaders navigate challenges with empathy and understanding, it shows the team that they are more likely to be treated with respect when it comes to personal issues too. This, in turn, encourages team members to voice their concerns, particularly regarding mental health issues.

In summary, by fostering psychologically safe environments, dismantling barriers to open communication, and empowering leaders to prioritise empathy and respect, companies can pave the way for meaningful change. Building a culture where everyone feels comfortable and supported not only helps with mental health initiatives, but also boosts resilience in the long run. When people thrive, the organisation thrives too.

TechTogether - Hubpage CTA


Skills, Talent and Diversity updates

Sign-up to get the latest updates and opportunities from our Skills, Talent and Diversity programme.

Join our tech community!

Our members develop strong networks, build meaningful partnerships and grow their businesses as we all work together to create a thriving environment where industry, government and stakeholders come together to realise the positive outcomes tech can deliver.

Join our tech community!


Nell O'Neill

Nell O'Neill

Content Writer, Clarion Insight Limited

Nell is a Content Writer at for Clarion Insight Limited. You can read more of her insights on Clarion’s News and Insights Page and on Clarion’s LinkedIn Page. Feel free to connect with Nell on her personal LinkedIn - she’d love to make connections and collaborate with others in the techUK community.