The Mental Health Toll on Cybersecurity Professionals and What Organizations Can Do to Address It

Frankie Wallace

Cybersecurity is a stressful industry. Every year, despite the best efforts of the greatest minds in the business, millions of data breaches slip through the cracks, and hackers find their way in. That can cost businesses and individuals billions of dollars and put sensitive information in the wrong hands.

Cybersecurity professionals are constantly trying to put a stop to these breaches, but it’s a never-ending endeavor as technology continues to advance and hackers find new and effective ways to commit their crimes.

On top of that, if a cyber-attack does occur, those individuals need to stop everything they’re doing to play defense and stop the attack in its tracks.

There’s an immense amount of pressure on the shoulders of everyone working in the cybersecurity industry.

Thankfully, there are things your organization can do to address the mental health toll on cybersecurity issues. You can take things one step further by providing support and the right resources for those individuals. By taking care of those who are protecting our valuable data, they’re more likely to do a better job and experience less stress while doing it.

Let’s take a closer look at the stress levels of cybersecurity employees, and what you can do to help them.

The Stress of Cybersecurity

In 2020, the FBI received more than 2,000 cybercrime complaints each day. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has skyrocketed. The industry has seen a 300% increase in cybercrimes, with many of them focusing on ransomware and cryptocurrency.

It’s nearly impossible for cybersecurity professionals to keep up with the constant changes and threats hitting businesses and individuals alike. So, it should come as no surprise that the industry is seeing a “great resignation” at the moment, mostly due to stress. Some of the biggest culprits contributing to this stress and the resignations going along with it include:

  • Ransomware
  • AI
  • A lack of full data restoration
  • Hackers installing a “back door” and being able to return

The brightest professionals in the industry would have to work around the clock to even make a dent in the number of cybercrimes that occur each year – and that’s just in the U.S. Across the globe, the numbers are even more daunting.

It can be a heavy burden to bear when you realize that someone’s personal information depends on your ability to beat out clever criminals. So, whether you want to ensure your cybersecurity team stays with you or want them to know they have your support, now is a perfect time to take action and prioritize their mental well-being.

Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance

One of the best ways to support your cybersecurity professionals is to make sure their work doesn’t take over their entire life. Again, they could work around the clock and still not curb all the potential threats coming through each day. However, it’s essential that they have a healthy work-life balance, or they’ll be at a greater risk of developing burnout. Some of the common signs of employee burnout include:

  • Emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion
  • Isolation
  • Disengagement
  • Lack of productivity
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability

By putting policies in place that give your cybersecurity professionals adequate time off, you’ll reduce absenteeism, isolation, and you’ll boost the mental and physical well-being of your workers. You can also encourage flexible schedules or offer remote or hybrid employment options within your organization.

In addition to encouraging more time off, do what you can to promote self-care within the workplace and at home. That could include prioritizing a healthy sleep schedule, staying physically active, and finding ways to de-stress. While you can’t control what your employees do at home, you can certainly stress the importance of proper care, and let them know the potential risks of burning out or becoming overwhelmed by work.

Provide the Right Resources

Because of the stress and pressure often associated with cybersecurity jobs, professionals in the industry might not have the time to research the right resources that can help them monitor and maintain their mental health.

You can serve as a source of support for those professionals by bringing some of those resources to them.

First, consider your office environment. Are your cybersecurity professionals holed up in a dark office space or cubicle all day? Consider brightening up the environment with live plants, vibrant colors, and plenty of natural light. Provide healthy snacks and encourage frequent breaks throughout the day.

You might even consider adopting new policies within your organization that are specifically designed to promote positivity and mental wellness. For example, consider allowing pets in the office. Cybersecurity professionals who work independently will appreciate the companionship. Plus, there are countless mental health benefits associated with pets. Even being around them can reduce stress and anxiety, improve confidence, and ease loneliness.

As a bonus, having pets around the office will also boost the mental health of your other employees and create a happier, more energetic work environment.

Finally, make sure there is no mental health stigma within your organization. The more you promote mental wellness, the better. Encourage your cybersecurity professionals to talk to a therapist if they’re struggling. Thanks to the rise in telehealth, they can connect to a therapist that will meet their needs and work with their schedule anywhere in the country. Many people feel more comfortable talking about their struggles in the comfort of their own homes, and teletherapy allows for that. Consider providing a list of therapists, or at least suggesting telehealth services to all of your employees.

There’s no question that we should be patting everyone in the cybersecurity industry on the back. While there are plenty of cyber-attacks happening every day, imagine how many more businesses and individuals would have to deal with it if these professionals weren’t constantly keeping us protected.

When it comes to the digital well-being of your business, you have your cybersecurity team to thank. One of the best ways to give back to those professionals is by making their mental health a priority. Keep these ideas in mind and put them into practice as you show your support and gratitude for these Internet gatekeepers.

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