Tech protocols for mental health. Microsoft manager gives advice to Lviv’s it Arena

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Speaking to Lviv’s IT Arena, Microsoft technical product manager Beth Anne Katz shared her methods to maintain mental health and have a sustainable career.
Photo: It Arena

Photo: It Arena

By Vitalii Holich

Beth Anne Katz, a technical product manager for Microsoft’s Powerpoint, told the participants of IT Arena how they can apply product management strategies to stay fit in their mental health. Apart from working in Microsoft, she is a founder of the online platform Katzbe, which helps people fight depression.

Katz urges that in the workplace, there are (a) methods you as an individual can exercise to improve your mental health and (b) those that companies can implement regarding their employees. 

In the individual strategy, according to the speaker, the first step is to find metrics that indicate when your system is in a healthy state and when it’s not. For her, such indicators are mood, caffeine intake, sleeping habits, and energy levels, though you can choose other ones. 

Once these metrics are determined, the next step is to establish thresholds for them. For instance, Katz considers her mental health moving in a bad direction if, during four days (one level) and three weeks (a more serious level)in a row, she’s in a bad mood, has troubles with sleep duration, feels more tired than usual, and consumes excessive amounts of coffee. 

Once you indicate that your mental health is going into a bad condition, you should find a way to return to its normal state, she said. The methods Katz offers may be more or less common, like aggressively prioritizing sleep and self-care, which helps renew the inner resource. Also, it’s often necessary to reduce the number of engagements – projects, tasks, and so on. Furthermore, the effect is hard to reach without other people, so speaking to a trusted friend and visiting the psychotherapist may be crucial to complement the success.

Companies can also help employees manage their mental health. Bringing a therapist to the company and creating support networks for employees, and arranging safety space for relaxation could be some common approaches. Furthermore, the team itself must be supportive, educated in mental health literacy, and able to adequately perceive colleagues who suffer from mental issues. 

Organisational steps may also be helpful to prevent bad mental conditions in the team. A vivid example is inclusive hiring, which regulates the appropriate breaks recruiters do between the interviews, so that they don’t burn out. Implementing these approaches may well benefit the teamwork and company’s success, increase productivity, reduce turnovers and attract new talents.

Katz spoke to IT Arena in a virtual session Friday 8 October. You can follow her on Linkedin.

By Vitalii Holich

More info about IT Arena

From October 7-9, Lviv hosted the 8th annual IT Arena tech conference, with a mix of virtual panel sessions and in-person meet-ups in the city’s grand hotels, cafés, the Pravda Beer Theatre. The event culminated with a Saturday gala at the 19th-century Lviv Opera House with a start-up pitch competition, a champagne reception, and live music by a cello-violin-drum trio. 

You earn more at the IT Arena website

At Lviv Now’s Wealth and Democracy page, you can read recaps of some of the panels and ideas discussed, including: 

«Express Your Expertise»: Maye, Mother of Elon, Gives Tips to Lviv’s IT Arena

«Do Not Put Humans in a Robots Job». Ten Rules Google Follows.

«Six Questions You Should Ask. AirBnB’s expert on how to make decisions.»

«Product-Builders Need to Talk with Customers Every Week»

«Invest in Smart Friends Who Have Integrity: Advice From Angel Investor»

«Six Positive to One Negative»: How to Lead Your Team.

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Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.

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