Baking Self-Care Into Activism on an Organizational Level

As the Progressive Coder’s Network expands, it’s vital we actively work to maintain our fellow members’ mental health

As activists, we constantly care. Our feelings and mental states are deeply embedded in our work.

While that kind of caring means that, in the short term, we can accomplish incredible things, it also has long-term repercussions. As resisting restrictive and unjust policies combines with taking proactive steps to encourage participation in government, our activism becomes sustained action. This requires that we (by which I mean both ProgCode members as individuals, and the organization as a whole) put sustainable strategies in place for ourselves and our fellow activists if we want to keep our minds sharp and our spirits recharged. But how?

One of the joys of working within a Progressive structure — one as flexible and responsive, on an organizational level, as ProgCode — is that all it takes to make a change is one small idea. Hopefully, we’ll see even more evidence of that as ProgCode starts to take steps to weave mental health and wellness strategies into the fabric of our culture.

To that end, we’ve started reaching out to mental health professionals for advice on how we, as a network, can take active steps to promote self-care among our members. As one professional pointed out, self-care itself can be an active manifestation of resistance. Here are some of the ways we’d like to encourage a culture that supports positive mental health choices and self-care.

  1. Recognize that our members’ mental health and ability to deal with the stress of daily activism directly impacts ProgCode’s short- and long-term effectiveness.
  2. Actively recruit mental health professionals and caregivers for their ideas about how to make mental health through self-care an ingrained part of ProgCode’s culture. This could include creating or curating resources that might be of use to our membership, or just being an ear for stressed-out members. In some cases, these volunteers (once we have them) may also be able to direct members to resources in their local communities.
  3. Begin holding regular calls to discuss and share stories and experiences, as well as obtain guided advice on self-care. We’ve seen some models of this in the wider activist community, and want to find a way of adapting to our members’ specific needs.
  4. As a stretch goal, eventually it would be incredible if we were able to hold ProgCode up as an example of best practices when it comes to embedding mental health/self-care into organizational culture. If this were possible, it would open the door to allowing us to create resources for those outside our community.

Through these and other steps, we hope to push a program — at first basic, but eventually more comprehensive — that allows our volunteers to maximize their effectiveness while also actively supporting their education on and practice of self-care.

For more discussion of both organizational culture and culture in general, join us in Slack on the #culture channel.