OSMI is Official

Articles of Incorporation

One of our stretch goals from our latest fundraising effort was to form an official nonprofit. Before you can apply for 501 status you have to first start your nonprofit at the local level. Yesterday (August 17th, 2016), we formed a nonprofit corporation in the state of Indiana. We also applied for (and received) an EIN number from the IRS. The official name of the organization is “Open Sourcing Mental Illness Ltd”. Our next step is to file for 501 status which we will be doing in the very near future. We’ll keep you updated as we proceed through the application process.

As an official nonprofit we have a board of directors that are in charge of the governing of the organization. Ed Finkler will be serving as the chairman of the board. The board members of Open Sourcing Mental Illness Ltd are as follows: Jennifer Akullian, Joe Ferguson, Gary Hockin, and Jenn Turner.

We would like to thank all of our volunteers, supporters, donators, and everyone who has helped spread the word about OSMI. You all have had a major impact in what we have been able to do so far and we’re excited about where we’re going from here.

OSMI Fundraiser 2016: Great Success!


Our second annual fundraiser closed at midnight on Saturday the 26th of June, and once again we were blown away by the response from the tech community.


From those who wanted to get on the Wall of Awesome, right up to Like Uber for Mental Health, every donation, big or small is equally valued (except that some are more equally valued than others).

We raised the initial $10k in an astounding 64 hours and ended up creating a $15k stretch goal that was also smashed through, ending up raising a staggering $21,396 in 30 days. Last year’s fundraiser was spectacular, raising around $15k over a 9 month period, so to better that by such a margin is not only superb but truly humbling.

Because of your generosity, OSMI will be able to become a legitimate not-for-profit organisation that gives us all sorts of benefits for keeping the group running in the long term. We’ll also be producing dead-tree copies of our handbooks and creating a series of online videos; all because of your awesomeness.

148 people will be receiving 73 sticker packs, 25 t-shirts, and 12 hoodies. 22 people will be cementing their place on the Wall of Awesomeness, joining such immense names as Daniel Cousineau and Ben Ramsey. Packs of cool OSMI stickers will be sent out to 36 lucky recipients, to be stuck who knows where (probably on the front of a laptop)? New company logos (of various sizes) will be added to our promotional materials, just itching to drive new business to those companies that proudly support Open Sourcing Mental Illness.

Here, in all its majesty, is the final table of who-bought-what-and-stuff:

Name Number Claimed Amount Total Raised
Your name on Wall of Awesome 22 $10 $220
5-Pack of OSMI Stickers 36 $25 $933
OSMI T-Shirt & 5-pack Stickers 25 $100 $2540
OSMI Hoodie & 5-pack sticker 12 $150 $1817
1-hour live video consultation 0 $300 $0
Amaze-level supporter 1 $750 $750
Mega-level supporter 2 $1500 $3000
Ultra-level supporter 1 $3500 $3500
Like Uber for Mental Health 1 $5000 $5000

In case you can’t tell, I’m building to a crescendo of joy and excitement, but before we can get there, we need to cover the fact that inevitably there will be people who have missed out. Sadly, some people, the type of individuals who live by the motto “don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow” will have missed the closing deadline, and will not be taking shipment of an amazing OSMI hoodie. Not only will those people be very disappointed, but they will also be chilly when in conference centres that are too aggressive with the air-conditioning.

We feel sorry for those people. Your only crime was one of loitering. So for these few tardy folks, we offer you another chance. If you head over to https://osmihelp.org/donate, for a limited time only, you can still make a donation and receive your perk. There is no need to thank us.

The dust is still settling, it’s difficult at this moment to take stock of what has happened. All we know currently is that by this time next year, we hope that OSMI will be a fully formed and operational not-for-profit organisation. We know that Ed will have been able to continue attending events all over the place, spreading the word and genuinely helping people to change their lives. For this, we really only have one thing that we can say.

Thank you.

Gary Hockin

How Open Sourcing Mental Illness Can Make Your Company More Productive

"OSMI Logo"

I started a campaigning 2013 called Open Sourcing Mental Illness (OSMI) to change how the tech industry deals with mental health. Right now I’m talking to folks at tech companies to see if they would be willing to provide financial support during our annual fundraiser. Here’s some reasons why this should matter to your org, and how supporting OSMI benefits you:

Why Support Mental Wellness in Tech?

  1. One in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness in any given year (National Alliance on Mental Health, 2013).

  2. In the tech industry, 50% of individuals have sought treatment for mental illness, according to one study (Finkler, 2015).

  3. Only 26% of those working in tech are aware of their company’s mental health resources and how to seek help (Finkler, 2015)

5 Ways Support for OSMI Benefits Your Organization

  1. We use your financial support to fund the development of resources aimed at creating workplaces that promote mental wellness. This includes the OSMI Handbooks we released in May 2016, as well as upcoming video workshops (produced if we can reach $20k in our 2016 fundraiser). Employees in a culture of mental wellness are demonstrably happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with their employer.

  2. Your employees will know their well-being is a priority to your organization – the kind of organization people want to work for.

  3. Potential employees will want to work for your organization if they know you take their health – physical and mental – seriously.

  4. We will work directly with your organization to answer questions and offer advice as much as possible. Direct feedback on application of our resources is extremely useful to improving them, and knowing what problems need solutions in the modern tech workplace. We also have strong relationships with consultants who specialize in organizational psychology and wellness programs.

  5. We can conduct employee surveys based on our Mental Health in Tech surveys to measure how well your employees are being served by current mental wellness policies, and where resources should be applied.

Please consider making a financial contribution to our 2016 fundraiser:

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Ed Finkler
Founder, Open Sourcing Mental Illness


National Alliance on Mental Health. (2013, March). Mental illness facts and numbers.

Finkler, E., (retrieved 2015, April). “OSMI Mental Health in Tech Survey”

World Health Organization. (2005). Mental health policies and programs in the workplace.

The Tools to Change Our Lives and Our Industry


I started talking about mental health in tech publicly on /dev/hell in 2012, when Chris Hartjes let me ramble for over an hour about what it has been like to be a developer with mental health issues. That is what started me down the path of speaking at conferences about the issues I face, and the ones we all face, with a talk called “Open Sourcing Mental Illness.”

Every time I gave the talk, people came up to me and told me how significant it was that someone was telling their story openly. They still do, over 3 years after I started, and after nearly 30 different versions of the talk given all across the US.

As it evolved, I started dedicating less time to me, and more to what we knew about the impact of mental disorders in society, and specifically about the tech industry. We know quite a bit about the former, and we know almost nothing about the latter. So I started the Mental Health in Tech Survey in 2014. About 1100 respondents later, we learned that:

  1. People who work in tech don’t feel safe to discuss mental health issues in the workplace
  2. People who suffer from mental health issues are afraid they will not be hired or lose their job if they talk about it
  3. Few people working in tech know what options they have to seek help for mental health issues
  4. Very few tech workplaces put any effort into promoting mental wellness, despite the demonstrable advantages of doing so

I wanted to change that. I also knew I couldn’t do it by myself, because I don’t have the professional background in either mental health or organizational psychology. I could spout off a bunch of opinions about the matters, but I didn’t trust that I’d give good advice that would actually affect change.

Thankfully I met two amazing people: Jennifer Akullian and Johanna Wu. Jennifer has a PhD in Psychology, Johanna has one in Organizational Psychology, and they both wanted to help me. I couldn’t believe my luck.

I brought them the idea of creating a document that contained real, actionable information about how to create a workplace that encourages and supports mental wellness. A great idea, I thought, and one I felt entirely incapable of executing. Thankfully, they felt differently.

Jennifer did the primary writing and research on three documents:

  1. Guidelines for Mental Health in the Workplace, which assists companies with changing their culture to support mental wellness,
  2. Guidelines for Execuctives and HR Professionals, and
  3. Guidelines for Employees, both of which focus on applying the Americans with Disability Act to mental health in the workplace.

Johanna reviewed the work and added her bits, and she is also working on additional content to complement what we have already created.

We released them on Tuesday, May 3rd, for the start of Mental Heath Awareness Week. They’re all free and CC-licensed.

Finally, we have handbooks that tech companies and their employees can use to change their culture and know their rights and obligations. Nothing like this has been available for the tech community until now. I couldn’t feel luckier or be prouder of the work we’ve done.

I have to thank all the donors who participated in our 2015 Indiegogo campaign, or have provided other funds or donated time to support OSMI work. We have a team of 10 people helping out in all sorts of ways. It’s turned into something much bigger than I could ever have imagined.

Thank you for believing that this matters. Thank you for trusting me to keep fighting. Thank you for standing by my side in that fight.

Thank you.

Open Sourcing Mental Illness Updates

Young men and women working on writing for publications at Camp Wel-Met, 1948

Here’s the latest, from a post I made to the mailing list (which you should definitely sign up for):

We released the 2016 Mental Health in Tech Survey

On Monday (March 14) I put up a new version of the survey I did in 2014 about mental health in the tech workplace. I have used the numbers from the 2014 survey a lot in my talks, and I wanted to get newer data. I also wanted to get more information about the kinds of issues that people working in tech are dealing with. I got a lot of help on this, especially from Matthew and Ayumi Bennett, Elizabeth Naramore, Jennifer Akullian Avery, Christina Keelan, and Johanna Wu.

Take the survey now!

I’ve spoken a ton

@ayumibennett on Twitter

Since June 21, 2015, when the main 2015 funding campaign ended, I have spoken at 9 conferences I wouldn’t have attended without your support. They include:

  • Open Source Bridge
  • Laracon US
  • Northeast PHP Conference
  • DevWorkshop Conference
  • Connect-JS
  • True North PHP
  • Nodevember
  • SkiPHP

Watch these talks now!

I also attended OSCON, and did a Birds of a Feather session.

Some of these conferences covered travel expenses, and some did not. Even when they did, meals and other expenses were covered by donated funds.

In the upcoming months:

  • In April I will be speaking at Kalamazoo X in Kalamazoo, MI and The Combine in Bloomington, IN.
  • May will bring Minneapolis Wordcamp in Minneapolis, MN and EmpireJS in New York, NY.
  • June is still a little up in the air, but I’ve been accepted to Yet Another Perl Conference-North America in Orlando, FL, and I hope to re-appear at Open Source Bridge in Portland, OR.
  • In July I expect to speak at PyOhio in Columbus, OH.

I’ve submitted to a few other conferences, and I’ll announce them when I hear acceptances.

I was interviewed on Microsoft’s Channel 9 blog

This just happened a couple weeks ago, thanks to the awesomest guy in the world Josh Holmes. We were working with his team in Seattle for work, and he asked if I’d be interested in doing this video interview. My hair is a disaster, but the whole setup was pretty cool. Josh has been talking a lot about living with ADHD lately, which is super cool.

We have a bunch of new volunteers

Now there are 6 people helping me in various ways with OSMI. This is really cool and kind of weird, because I’m very used to just doing most things myself and having total control over them. However, folks kept asking to help, and it seemed like a lot more neat stuff could be done if I let them. So, moving forward, I think we will be able to reach more people and affect more change with their help.

It’s important to mention that my wife Nicole has been helping me this whole time in a ton of ways, both directly and indirectly. There’s no way I could do any of this without her.

We launched a new web site at OSMIhelp.org

Fancy, responsive, SSL, has my face all over it: OSMIhelp.org. We also moved the blog to blog.osmihelp.org.

We’ve worked a ton on documentation

It’s not done, which I’m bummed about, but we have made a bunch of progress. Jennifer Akullian Avery and Johanna Wu have volunteered a bunch of time and effort to put together documentation on applying the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) to mental health in the workplace, both for employers and employees. This document is very close – we just want to get an attorney to review it to make sure we aren’t saying anything ridiculous. We also have done good preliminary work on guidelines for making a workplace supportive of mental wellness. We need to put more time into writing detailed examples, though, which has been a struggle.

I’ve spoken at companies

Late in 2015 I had the opportunity to speak at Branding Brand in Pittsburgh, PA and another tech company in West Lafayette, IN (where I live). The really cool thing about these opportunities is that I was able to speak directly about specific workplace issues with employees and management. I got great feedback on this, and I hope we can keep doing it in the future.

I bought a video camera

This has worked out well for recording talks – better than my iPhone was doing.

I took a new job, and they’re amazingly supportive

I now am Head of Developer Culture and Lead Developer at Graph Story. The team there has been incredible, accommodating the time I’ve needed to speak at conferences, and even presenting me with opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise: they asked me to use their sponsor talk slot at CodeMash in January 2016 to give my OSMI talk. This was a great chance to reach new communities, and it wouldn’t have happened if Graph Story didn’t feel strongly about what I’m doing.

That TedXLafayette Talk finally got published

You can watch it here.

We made some t-shirts, forgot to send some, and then made more

@walkah on Twitter

T-shirts were the most popular reward for donations, and also the one I screwed up the most. We had about 6 people who didn’t get theirs, because I wasn’t diligent about tracking it. To address the issue I had a 72-shirt run printed early this year, which includes women’s cuts. I’ll use the shirts we still have (which is most of them) in the next fundraiser.

It costs a lot to send a t-shirt to Europe.

We will do another fundraiser soon

In late April or May I will kick-off a new fundraiser for 2016. Funds from the 2015 fundraisers have been depleted, so at this point I’m just using personal funds to cover travel. This hasn’t been a huge problem, but will be a bigger issue when I need to fly to more conferences this summer. We’ll also use funds to compensate those who give their time to do work for OSMI, which lets us do way more. We can’t pay them what their worth, but it does help.

When the new fundraiser is ready to go, I’ll announce it various ways. I’ll also close the 2015 fundraiser to ongoing donations.

That’s what I can remember at the moment – I’m surely forgetting things. OSMI has kept growing beyond what I thought was possible, and has pushed me to grow personally in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. The support of my family, friends, and members of the tech community means more to me than I can say. We are making a real, positive difference in people’s lives, one person at a time. Thank you so much for believing in what we are doing.

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