“You don’t have to worry if you can cope or not.”
“It pays to take good care of your employees’ well-being even before sick leave has to be taken,” says Kea Tossavainen, a coder.
“I work as a coder for a company called Codeo. Customers buy software development services from us. I really like my job – so much so that I code in my spare time.
I work remotely, which is what suits me best. My well-being at work is enhanced by the fact that I can walk the dogs in the nearby woods during my lunch break, instead of sitting in the canteen at work. At home, I have a perfect workstation with an adjustable desk.
Although the job of a coder is independent, I am not alone, and there is always help available. We also have office space that I can go to, and every three weeks, we meet with the client for a design meeting.
I’ve managed to find a job in a company that takes care of people and I don’t have to worry if life gets a bit tough sometimes. I’ve been told to take care of myself first and then the projects – it’s a great motivator, and I feel I can cope.
I was put on a work disability pension at the age of 18. I was hopeless at a young age because I didn’t know what to do and felt I wasn’t very good at anything. That was one of the reasons I got ill.
At that time, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but it was only last year that I got the real diagnosis, which is depression. So I’ve been on the wrong medication for 14 years, and I didn’t get any better until last year. Only now do I feel that the medication prescribed for depression has taken effect.
So I was in my twenties on work disability pension without any mental health support. I was left with nothing. I had no information about the options, and the doctors couldn’t help me. I was not encouraged to work, and once Kela even refused my application for a work trial because I had found the job myself.
At 23, I cut out the work disability pension myself because I was bored and wanted to work. I found a nice job at a gaming company with my connections; they were willing to take a risk with me. I did well because I was motivated, and the team was small. It was incredibly encouraging to feel that I could work and that I was useful.
But I wanted to study more. I went to Brighton in the UK to study visual game development but ended up graduating with a degree in computer science because I had become interested in coding.
I came to work at my current employer because they value equality and people’s well-being. I was nervous to tell them that I had had to take sick leave in the past because of mental health problems. They took it well, and I was promised support.
I have now transferred all my health matters from municipal services to occupational health care. In addition to the physician’s services, we have access to the Auntie service, where you can talk to a mental health professional remotely. You can also see a psychologist. I have not had to take any sick leave because of mental health problems.
I know many people are afraid to raise mental health issues in their workplace until they are forced to take sick leave. In our workplace, there is always care and help available so that you don’t have to take sick leave. It makes sense because sick leave is costly for everyone.”