Django under the Hood - Keynote

Speaker: Jennifer Akullian is a psychologist/"people developer", dedicated to learning mechanics, working for Keen IO. Also active in a non-profit looking after mental health issues in tech.

Content Warning: Discussion

Links: Open sourcing mental health: study, Devpressed forum, mhprompt

Trust equation

Trust = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / (Self-orientation)


  • Get dialogue about mental health in tech started
  • Remove stigma around mental illness
  • Provide tools to help

Bipolar personality disorder

  • Bipolar tends to be diagnosed correctly only after 7 years, women being misdiagnosed for depression, men for schizophrenia. There is a suicide attempt rate of about 50%.
  • Manic episodes: impulsiveness, high energy, problems with eating and sleeping, irritability.
  • Depressive episodes: loss of interest in anything, hopelessness, fatigue, pervasive sadness, isolation, suicidal talks
  • Mixed episodes: both at once.


  • Dopamine: pleasure, reward, motivation/drive
  • Norepinephrine: alertness, concentration, energy
  • Serotonin: obsessions, compulsions, energy
  • Dopamine and Norepinephrine: attention
  • Dopamine and Serotonin: appetite, sex, aggression
  • Norepinephrine and Serotonin: anxiety, impulse, irritability
  • All: mood, cognitive functioning
  • There are various working medication strategies adjusting neurotransmitter levels to healthy, working levels.


  • Stigma prevents us from talking about mental illness
  • Stigma hinders treatment outcome, among other things because people don't seek help
  • We can combat things by openness and disclosure

Mental Illness

  • 1/5 is diagnosed with mental illness, about 1/25 with a significant impact on daily life
    • 1.1% schizophrenia
    • 2.6% bipolar
    • 6.9% depression
    • 18.1% anxiety
  • Mental illnesses are brain disorders

Mental health in tech

  • Survey with largest response (second version ongoing, see link on top)
  • About half of the people in tech have sought treatment for a mental health condition
  • Mental health means better concentration, more rewarding victories, better motivation, better working memory, faster processing speed, less irritability, less impulsiveness and have less anxiety, higher energy, better mood, better functioning, which leads to increased productivity.
  • Burn out is a state of emotional, mental, and physical eshaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
  • People are working too hard and not talking about it.


  • Since burnout is similar to mental illness, talking about either helps with the other
  • See a doctor.
  • Mandatory unplugged time to recharge.
  • Introspection: think about yourself and your thoughts
  • "Weekly introspective happy hour": food, drinks, and talk about feelings ("A&E", anxious and excited, alive and experiencing)
  • When you phrase your feelings, your brain activity shifts from emotional processing to analytic processing
  • Another hack: Try and do a complex math problem instead, that does the same thing.
  • Talk to peers, colleagues, partners, friends, or a coach. This is not about advice or mentorship or therapy - just to express feelings.
  • Devpressed forum for discussion, too.