Managing stress, burnout, and mental health across your security workforce
Building PsyberResilience is a training program created by Neal O’Farrell, founder of the PsyberResilience project and a 40-year-veteran of the security industry. He’s also spent forty years struggling with a variety of mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, 30 years with chronic stress, and the last three years studying how we can improve mental health in the workplace.
Neal created the project the address the surge in stress and burnout amongst cybersecurity professionals, a surge that’s creating risks for both the individuals and organizations and grown exponentially worse since the arrival of Covid.
An Urgent Need
There’s now over a decade of research and feedback to suggest that one of the biggest threats to your security team is their mental wellness. And if that mental health issues are being ignored, it can impact your security team and your entire security posture.
- A 2019 Ponemon study found that 65% of SOC professionals say stress has caused them to think about quitting.
- A 2019 Symantec study of nearly 3,000 security professionals, almost two thirds of cybersecurity professionals have considered quitting their jobs or leaving the industry altogether specifically because of stress and burnout.
- In a 2020 Nominet study nearly half of CISOs said work stress has had a detrimental impact on their mental health with 88% said they were experiencing moderate to high stress.
And the stress and burnout before Covid have exploded exponentially since.
Six Things We Should All Understand About Stress
- Stress is very real, widespread, and dangerous, and if left unchecked or unmanaged it can cause serious long-term mental and physical health problems.
- The most dangerous approach is to simply write stress off as unavoidable, a part of the job, what you signed up for, “it comes with the territory.” None of those are true.
- It’s vital to separate stressors from stress. The security job is full of stressors, the things that cause stress, and many of them unavoidable. But there are lots of proven ways to prevent stressors from becoming stress.
- Unmanaged stress only makes a security job and career harder, and unnecessarily so. Managed stress can make the security life much easier and all the unavoidable stressors easier to tolerate.
- Unmanaged stress can significantly increase organizational risk. Managed stress can help reduce it.
- Security professionals will rarely admit openly that they’re struggling with stress, mainly because of personal pride but often because of fear of reputation damage, criticism, and career impact.
How Can We Help?
We’re building the first program to help security professionals and leaders better understand and manage the stress of the job – stress that simply doesn’t have to exist.
We can build a simple program for you that can include:
- One or a series of online webinars and training events, live or pre-recorded, to help security employees better understand and manage the stress of the job.
- A series of short video training modules that will make the training instantly accessible to busy employees.
- Post-training anonymous surveys to encourage your security employees to share their top concerns and makes suggestions.
- Post post-training surveys to see if stress levels and attitudes are changing over time.
- Advice on the simple steps your organization can take to create a less stressful workplace and team.
Topics And Issues We Can Address
- Lessons learned from nearly four decades working in global cybersecurity and dealing with exactly these challenges.
- The causes and impact of stress and burnout in the security workforce.
- The ways unchecked stress can do long-term physical and psychological damage.
- Understanding the connections between stress, burnout, and mental illness.
- Cortisol poisoning and the toxic effects of cortisol and adrenaline if left unchecked.
- The different stages of burnout and how to recognize them.
- How attackers are recognizing and exploiting psyberstress in security professionals.
- Why stress might be unavoidable but not unmanageable.
- Measuring your own personal levels of stress.
- Tools and techniques to manage stress and control cortisol.
- The power of mindfulness and other techniques in managing stress.
Format and Duration
The training program is delivered entirely online and in a variety of formats to match your needs and environment:
- As a single live presentation of 60 or 90 minutes and with a recording available for later viewing.
- As a series of online microlessons, from 5 to 15 minutes each, and always available at a private link to accommodate busy schedules.
Each training event can customized and branded for your organization and a recording will also be available afterwards for later use.
An optional anonymous survey will allow all your team members to share their concerns, report any issues, and make suggestions for improving mental health and reducing stress in their specific environment.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER
Neal O’Farrell was one of the first generation of cybersecurity professionals, starting his career nearly forty years ago and chalking up many awards and firsts along the way. He’s worked around the world with Fortune 500 companies, governments, the military, the intelligence community, and the banking community, and was recipient of SC Magazine’s 2011 Editor’s Choice Award.
Neal also spent those same forty years fighting a trifecta of mental illnesses, including severe anxiety and depression. He’s spent nearly 30 years struggling with the addition of work-derived stress, which became so chronic it finally led to nearly fatal burnout.
After nearly forty years in the industry he’s changed his focus from cyber health to mental health, his own and everyone else’s. Read more about him.
View A Sample of Video Lessons