The bonds of the FOSS community go far beyond software. Case in point, Arjen Lentz is stepping outside the bounds of the comfortable realm of software and launching bluehackers.org. The site is an effort to bring developers together to provide support for one another when dealing with depression.
Typically, this isn't something that's discussed in mixed company, and certainly not in front of crowds -- but that's just what Lentz is doing. He started with a lightning talk at the Open Source Developer's Conference in Sydney last year, and picked up steam at Linux.conf.au. Lentz discussed bluehackers.org Friday at Linux.conf.au during the opening session and asked how many of the attendees had dealt with depression. Quite a few of the crowd raised their hands, indicating that depression isn't a rarity.
The idea is to raise awareness of the problem, and provide some resources for geeks who deal with depression, anxiety, and other disorders. After the session, some of the blue crew went about giving out computer stickers with the bluehackers.org logo. The organizers hope that this will be visible at conferences and the like, letting other hackers know that they're not alone in dealing with depression and similar disorders. With any luck, this will allow hackers who deal with depression to destigmatize the disorder and talk openly about their problems.
Given that 2009 is likely to be a rough year for many in the IT industry, this site couldn't come at a better time. The bluehackers.org site has a howto with tips for staying healthy and de-stressing, and for those feeling a need for a bit of real-time communication, there's a #bluehackers channel on the Freenode IRC network. Of course, the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, but should serve as a helpful resource in addition to professional help.