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Supporting mental health in research software

Selina Aragon

Selina Aragon

Associate Director of Operations

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Supporting mental health in research software

Posted by j.laird on 27 October 2022 - 3:17pm Scrabble tiles saying mental health mattersImage by Marcel Strauß

By Selina Aragon, Research Software Camps Chair and SSI Communications Lead.

While recent years have seen better acknowledgement of the importance of wellbeing and good mental health in the workplace, writing code for research is a relatively newly recognised aspect in academia and, as such, a long road is still ahead of us when it comes to speaking openly about, and offering solutions to, stressors that can affect people’s wellbeing in research software working environments. 

Our next Research Software Camp will focus on exploring various aspects of mental health and wellbeing in research software, including causes of stress in research software, dealing with our inner critic through self-compassion, having difficult conversations, team culture, post-Covid hybrid working, isolation, and more. 

Join us online from 7 to 18 November 2022 as we explore the topic through our live sessions and our online curated resources and social media campaign. We welcome anyone who is interested in the topic of mental health in research software. 

Managing stress in research software

The Panel Discussion: Managing stress in research software will take place on Monday 7 November from 1 – 2.30 pm GMT. Register for free.

The panel will be chaired by Dave Horsfall and aims to raise awareness of mental health topics in a safe and non-judgemental online environment.

Panellists will share their experiences and expertise on managing workload and stress, self-compassion, embracing their inner critic, context shifting when handling multiple projects, and isolation (hybrid or remote working), and how all of these can impact career development and progression.

Our goal is to present as many views and experiences as we can so that the audience finds this Panel enriching and eye-opening, as well as to provide a starting place for people to explore their own approach to wellbeing and mental health in research software settings, and perhaps initiate conversations with their own colleagues and groups.

Meet our panellists as they introduce themselves in these videos.

Befriending your inner critic

The workshop on Befriending your inner critic will take place on Tuesday 15 November from 1 - 3pm GMT. Register for free.

This free two-hour session will be an opportunity to take a step back from the pressures of your day. We’ll turn our research curiosity towards our experience of navigating our research and research software work environments.

We’ll discuss how mindfulness can help us to get to know our own inner critic. There will be space to try out mindfulness meditations that can calm unhelpful thought patterns and cultivate self-compassion, so that we can let our creativity and confidence benefit our work.

This session has been developed and will be led by Anita Banerji, Research Associate at the SSI. Anita has been practising meditation for nearly 15 years. She is an accredited mindfulness teacher through Breathworks.

Watch Anita introduce the workshop:

Research and events on mental health

Focussing on mental health at the next Research Software Camp (RSC) isn’t an isolated decision. There’s adjacent work being done by our staff and collaborators on mental health particularly in research software. Dave Horsfall, SSI Fellow and Research Software Camp organising committee member, advocates the importance of understanding mental health for research software developers to drive culture change. He is currently running a survey which you can take part in. The results will give valuable information about the health of the Research Software Engineering workforce.

The SSI Collaborations Workshop 2023 will focus on Sustainable Career Development for those in the research software community: looking after your software, your career, and yourself (including sustaining your mental health, wellbeing and finding your community).

About the Research Software Camps

The Research Software Camps are two weeks of online events and resources all aimed at researchers with zero- to beginner-level coding skills who may not be confident about good research software practices or lack the support to develop their skill set. While exploring key topics around research software, the RSCs focus on entry-level guidance and training, while also supporting the transition to developing intermediate skills.

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