Quarter of CISOs Self-Medicate as Pandemic Stress Spikes

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An increase in work-related stress and a lack of paid leave opportunities during COVID-19 have raised concerns that some IT and security executives may be self-medicating to cope with the extra pressure.

Security vendor OneLogin polled 250 tech leaders across the globe to compile its IAMokay Mental Health Survey.

It found that over three-quarters (77%) believe the pandemic has increased workplace stress while 86% also reported an increase in workload. A quarter (25%) reported that they were being forced to undertake a “significant” amount of extra work.

On the positive front, three-quarters (74%) believe their organization cares about their mental health, and nearly half (49%) said their employer has provided access to mental health services.

However, more than half (54%) said they’ve been unable to take paid time off in the past six months, which can increase stress levels significantly.

A quarter (24%) admitted to having taken alcohol, narcotics or prescription medication in the past to alleviate stress. Those in construction (54%), education (41%), professional services (33%) and financial services (33%) are most likely to have done so, according to OneLogin.

“Historically, business has been preoccupied with efficiency, while sacrificing human relationships. On some level, this perspective may have worked in the past, but times have changed,” argued Robin Massey, an industrial organizational psychologist cited in the study.

“What we know is the current state of the body influences behaviors, feelings and thinking. Therefore, it is important to understand how physiological factors are interrelated with the relational and psychological.”

The findings chime with a Nominet study from 2019 which revealed that 91% of UK and US CISOs suffer moderate or high stress, over a quarter (27%) said this is impacting their mental or physical health and 17% admitted turning to medication or alcohol as a result.

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