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Using technology to support employees mental health

The global pandemic has drastically changed how many organisations and its employees work as they were forced to adjust to a new way of working. This new way of working had a number of consequences such as the need to find ways to ensure businesses could continue, trying to retain jobs and also dealing with feeling lonely, disconnected and out of control.

A recent study of Oracle and Workplace Intelligence (Research Report: AI@Work 2021 (oracle.com)) found that 80% of employees surveyed said that the past year negatively impacted them with many struggling financially, suffering from declining mental health and lacking career motivation.

The study also found that employees have much different priorities compared to prior to the pandemic. This includes factors such a placing a great importance on achieving a work-life balance, prioritising their mental health and reconsidering the type of employer they want to work for.

With this in mind, now more than ever, employers need to prioritise the mental health of their employees. However, due to the stigma surrounding mental health, many employees are hesitant to ask their managers, co-workers or HR for help due to a fear of being ostracized. Employees are also often afraid to voice their concerns at work due to a fear of being excluded and any potential consequence of doing so. As robots cannot judge, this would explain why 82% of people surveyed in the above survey believe that robots can support their careers better than humans.

As the pandemic has accelerated the mental health crisis, a number of technology solutions to meet the mental health needs of individuals have emerged. This had led to companies partnering with wellness technology companies in an attempt to support and monitor employees mental health needs.

Wellness companies fall in into a number of categories and some of the types of support they offer are detailed below:

  • Meditation apps – Two of the most popular meditation apps, Calm and Headspace, provide content that encourage and teach individuals how to meditate, get better quality sleep and lower stress levels.
  • Fitness apps – There are a number of apps that offer virtual fitness classes and the ability to track health data.
  • Dieting apps – Many apps help individuals to track their eating and learn about nutrition.
  • Chatbox therapy – Through the use of AI, psychologists have development chatbots that assist individuals with their mental health issues through a messaging system.
  • Online counselling – There are apps which provide individuals with support from therapists through text, audio and video messaging.
  • Mood tracking – Some apps provide individuals with the ability to track their moods throughout the day by asking questions and providing prompts to help them improve their mental health.

As the pandemic has accelerated the mental health crisis, companies  are partnering with wellness technology companies to support and monitor employees mental health.

Whilst appreciating technology is not a complete solution to mental health issues, it does provide 24/7 help to employees and can be successful for both employees that attend the workplace and those who work remotely. However, employers should consider that this may not replace the importance of human interaction and ensuring employees work in a supportive environment.

Although some companies are already offering tools and resources to support employee mental health, the above survey found that 85% of employees were not satisfied with their employer’s support of their careers and 87% believed that their company should be doing more to listen to their needs.

With this in mind, employers must make the mental health needs of their employees a paramount concern in an attempt to support and address the ongoing mental health crisis.

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

About this article

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