Experts, former Bay Area tech workers explain how mass layoffs impact mental health and daily life

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Friday, November 18, 2022
Experts, former tech workers: Here's how layoffs impact mental health
Largescale layoffs are sending shockwaves through Silicon Valley, with many learning very quickly that tech is not untouchable.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Largescale layoffs are sending shockwaves through Silicon Valley, with many learning very quickly that tech is not untouchable.

Many are turning their attention now to how these massive cuts across various tech companies might impact mental health.

"It will take a while for good data to emerge about how bad this is going to be, from the psychological point of view," said Dr. Thomas Plante, Santa Clara University Psychology professor.

"We're in this mental health tsunami," he added. "The pandemic, climate change, divisive politics -- everything else that's going on. There's a lot of anxiety, depression, suicidality, alcohol abuse, and so forth."

Plante pointed to added impacts for those living in Silicon Valley.

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"There's a lot of people who are kind of alone out here because they've moved here for tech," he said. "And they may be far away from family, friends, and the kind of support systems that are all around the globe."

He said the holiday season makes this an especially hard time to be hit with job loss as well.

Also, he said this new generation of tech workers may not have any experience navigating life after being laid off.

"They may be kind of, thrown a curveball here on top of very stressful times. And that's worrisome," Dr. Plante said.

South Bay resident Jared Oliva, who was laid off in mid-October by a Bay Area tech company, said he was a child during the 2008 recession.

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"I actually asked my dad, who experienced it, kind of what to do," Oliva said.

Moving from a dual-income to single-income household, he and his fiancé have turned their focus to finances.

"It definitely changes things," Oliva shared. "We definitely are pulling back our budget on a lot of items and making sure not to tap into savings too early or anything like that."

Part of pulling back includes cutting down on Christmas spending, and instead investing in self care.

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"It's also good mentally, I think, to exercise and to keep yourself moving. Because I think if you're not working and you're not exercising, it's a slippery slope," he said.

Oliva and his fiancé also run a family business, Moss Amigos, which has managed to keep him busy.

"Waking up bright and early packing packages, driving to UPS, driving to the post office, dropping them off. It's great working in the warehouse, and it's nice working with my team there," Oliva told ABC7 News.

Turning back to tech, Oliva said the general consensus across the industry is cautious optimism the New Year will hold new employment opportunities.

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"We believe that hiring will begin again in January and February," he said. "And this is just another reshuffling. And so people are cautiously optimistic and we're hoping that there's going to be more job openings in the New Year as there usually are."

Still, Oliva admitted there is concern over the unknown, as his fiancé also works in tech.

"It's not just the people who are laid off who have all this stress," Dr. Plante said. "There's the 'survivors,' if you will, who still have their jobs. But their friends, their colleagues, they're like 'Hey, when is the next shoe going to drop, and is it going to drop on me?'"

Dr. Plante encouraged, "We got to keep perspective. And that means - yes, people lose their jobs. Yes, sometimes times can be tough. But you know, this too shall pass."

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