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Although coming into the new year period is often a celebration, going back to work can be particularly tough on our mental health. Looking after our mental health is something that we all need to take care of, and we’ve seen more emphasis placed on employee wellbeing in the wake of the pandemic.

As the post-holiday pressure increases, remembering to prioritise ourselves can be a challenge. Cybersecurity teams are particularly exposed to this type of work stress as the cyber threats they defend companies against are unrelenting and constantly evolving. In fact, the burnout rates in cybersecurity may be exceeding those among frontline healthcare workers.

Businesses tend to become more vulnerable to further cyberattacks in the wake of a successful attack, leaving cyber experts with a heightened sense of responsibility which can easily translate to extreme stress and burnout. A recent report  by cybersecurity specialist Mimecast revealed that the burden of ransomware attacks hasn’t relented for the past few years, and it’s becoming clear that these attacks carry an arduous long-term impact on cybersecurity professionals.

Other key findings from South African respondents to the research include:

  1. 58% say that ransomware attacks have had a negative impact on their mental health
  2. 53% say that their role gets more stressful every year, which makes sense as attacks are becoming more harmful each year
  3. Many professionals are reaching their breaking point, as one in five (22%) are considering leaving their role in the next two years due to stress or burnout.

Some tips from Peter Coroneos, who is the founder of Cybermindz.org, on how cyber teams can maintain their mental health this year:

  1. Make mental health a regular topic of conversation
    1. The biggest barrier to acknowledging and identifying the mental health challenges in cybersecurity is the natural reticence to show vulnerability. There is an opportunity for CISOs to lead the discussion.
  2. Align corporate culture with authentic recognition of mental health
    1. As well as normalising the conversation around this issue, the culture needs to respond by actively promoting organisational support for mental health of employees that goes beyond perfunctory programs.
  3. Invest in prevention within and beyond cyber teams
    1. There is evidence that stressed workers are more prone to mistakes. Burned out workers are less likely to care. This should be seen as an existential threat to the organisation.
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