It is no surprise that employee mental health is something that is being taken extremely seriously by a lot of organisations. We've all seen the cost estimates, the figures from the HSE and the Mental Health foundation, and just how much the UK economy, and business in general, suffer due to undiagnosed and untreated mental health conditions. Ultimately, the less support we provide, the more it will negatively impact productivity at work, absenteeism, progress, and the success of a company.
Mental ill health is unfortunately very common in employees with recent studies estimating that 20% of the working population will experience a mental health condition in 2017. Check out our infographic about the cost to businesses this causes.
Yet, with days off due to mental health issues increasing by 24% over the past six years, it is so important to ensure every member of staff feels looked after. A career is so important in life. It gives the ability to build the skills to progress further and it is the foundation of building a life, not just for employees but for their families. As such, it can put employees under a lot of pressure. 9 out of 10 employees with a mental health issue experience stigma and discrimination - with 56% of managers saying they would not hire somebody due to mental health problems regardless of them being the best candidate for the job. Everybody knows that mental health within the workplace needs to be addressed - but how can we do it in an effective way that positively reduces stigma and allows for better support seeking routes for employees?
With workplace stress statistics not improving over almost a decade and with the majority of people refusing to seek treatment, individuals have recently begun to explore alternative options. Some people have resulted in turning to technology to feel the benefits of improved mental health. When we all spend so much time on our phones and tablets by wasting time on things like Facebook and Twitter, why don't we use it more productively? Mobile mental health has allowed the public, doctors and even researchers new ways to assist their (patients) mental health. This includes monitoring progress, access to helplines, stress relieving applications and further understanding of mental wellbeing through websites and social media. There are a variety apps which have been suggested to improve mental health. These range from mindfulness apps, quote apps, support forums and apps allowing you to contact a professional.
Should employees turn to their mobile phones for support? We think so. Here are some of the benefits.
Convenience: Many people tend to have their mobile phones with them constantly and therefore if someone was feeling stressed or down, they could access support immediately.
24/7: Community mental health teams and GP surgeries operate from 9am to 5pm, but we all know mental health conditions do not simply stop at 5pm. You would also need to book appointments, and can usually find yourself on a waiting list of longer than 3 months for clinical support. However, if you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious in the evening, during the night or at the weekend, you can access help and support instantly, any time of the day.
Anonymous: Within an app, your identity can remain anonymous, and there is no need to fill out forms or speak to somebody about your problems face to face. Of course, we recommend face to face therapy and do not see technology replacing that human interaction, but 'speaking out' is often the biggest barrier stopping people from an early intervention. If someone can use an app, when they may feel scared of talking, they can get help immediately without the need to feel anxious.
Available to more people: There are numerous reasons why some people may not seek help from professionals including price, availability, those living in rural areas and more. Apps are available for everybody to use, no matter their location, income, and severity etc.
Affordable: Traditionally, visiting a therapist costs between £40-£100 per session (imagine the cost of one session per week), however apps cost a lot less. Even if there is a subscription involved, it will generally be less than the price of a monthly prescription. Something that works won’t usually be free.
As previously stated, there are numerous benefits to using technology to improve your mental well-being, however, there are also a few cons. These include:
Effectiveness: Though some apps state they ‘really do work’, the effectiveness of them is not necessarily proven. If you are going to try an app, at least ensure the techniques within the app are clinically proven to reduce your symptoms. If the app itself has completed seperate clinical research trials with UK based NHS teaching trusts, even better.
Privacy: Apps monitoring mental health usually contain sensitive and personal information. Ensure any mental health apps you download protect your privacy.
To begin ensuring the wellbeing of employees, why not explore our clinically proven app, ‘Feel Stress Free’, which has been developed by our founding psychologists and psychiatrists and includes computerised cognitive behavioural therapy and simple mindfulness techniques. It can pro-actively prevent, provide early detection, and provide early treatment for common mental health conditions, as well as building resilience to and help prevent stress, anxiety and mild depression with regular use. You can download feel stress free at www.feelstressfree.com.