Caring for the Minds Behind the Machine: Why Tech Needs Developer Wellbeing Advocates

Study after study and an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence shared in online programmer communities like Reddit makes it clear – the nonstop intense demands of software development can take a major toll on developers’ mental health. The sheer relentless barrage of constant information overload leads directly to critical issues like burnout, anxiety, depression, and more. 

Reading about others’ stories, and listening in conversation with other developers who have struggled to stay afloat day after day, it is clear to me that technology companies need to take more proactive and comprehensive steps if they truly want to support the psychological wellbeing of their developer workforce. There are many benefits to organisations that ensure their developers are happy and have a positive wellbeing, including improved productivity, reduced burnout, enhanced focus, increased innovation, better teamwork, higher retention rates, and a stronger company culture. Specifically, happy and healthy developers are more engaged, creative, motivated, and collaborative. They experience less fatigue and are more likely to feel loyal and committed to the company mission.

That is why I am proposing tech leaders pilot a new role – the developer wellbeing advocate. This critical position could be implemented either in-house as a dedicated member of the organization or by partnering with specialized third-party counseling services tailored specifically to developers’ needs. Either way, the time has come for businesses to realize the vital benefits an advocate could provide.

Drawing from my professional expertise as a developer and in counseling, wellbeing advocates could address the multitude of unique pressures and pain points developers face on a daily basis. For example, an advocate well-versed in developer lingo could teach quick yet effective mindfulness and resilience techniques to help programmers stay focused and energized even amid the chaos of a major product launch. Or they could work one-on-one with developers who feel overwhelmed to set healthy communication boundaries around responding to work requests during off hours as part of establishing a more sustainable work-life balance.

Importantly, software developers often use highly specialized technical language and jargon that may seem like a foreign language to someone outside the coding world. Developers would lilely feel more understood, and be more willing to open up about vulnerabilities if speaking with a mental health resource who intimately comprehends the nuances of how they communicate. Having a compassionate counselor who already speaks their language could make all the difference.

By providing customized mental health resources that are finely attuned to the unique developer experience, technology companies send a powerful message to their staff that they are truly valued as whole human beings, not merely input-output productivity units in the machinery of the business. My deepest hope is that this idea sparks a sweeping movement across the entire tech sector, with forward-looking businesses of all sizes realizing the multitude of benefits supporting developer wellbeing can bring, both for their people and their bottom line. After all, healthy and happy developers are what drive world-changing innovation forward. The tech leaders of tomorrow will be those who recognize and embrace this much-needed change.


Tulili, T., Capiluppi, A., & Rastogi, A. (2023). Burnout in software engineering: A systematic mapping study. Information And Software Technology, 155, 107116. doi: 10.1016/j.infsof.2022.107116

Lalloo D, Lewsey J, Katikireddi SV, Macdonald EB, Campbell D, Demou E. Comparing Anxiety and Depression in Information Technology Workers with Others in Employment: A UK Biobank Cohort Study. Ann Work Expo Health. 2022 Nov 15;66(9):1136-1150. doi:10.1093/annweh/wxac061. PMID: 36029464; PMCID: PMC9664232.

Dow, D., 2021, Developer Burnout: Why it Happens and What We Can Do About It. (2021). Retrieved 31 August 2023, from

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