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Five ways digital tools can be used to boost mental health

Employees see digital wellbeing apps and online mental health training as a way of proactively improving their mental health.

In the run-up to this year’s World Mental Health Day (10 Oct), our latest Health at Work report shows that increased confidence in digital health tools has a valuable role to play when it comes to tackling mental health.

Two-fifths (42%) of those surveyed view mental health apps that provide training on how to reduce anxiety and depression as valuable. More than four in ten (43%) would appreciate mental health counselling delivered by text or telephone.

In response, we’re delighted to announce that we will be launching an exciting new wellbeing app next month. This will be made available to all employees as part of our PAM Assist EAP, providing free access to mental health assessments, training and mindfulness tools. Meanwhile, this month’s blog looks at how digital tools can be used to boost mental health.

 

Five ways digital tools can be used to boost mental health:

1. Empower employees

Mental health has become significantly less stigmatised in recent years, however it remains a topic that many people are reluctant to talk about. Some feel they should only ask for help with once they find themselves really struggling to cope.

This means one of the most empowering things about digital mental health tools is their capacity to encourage people to immediately access help in a highly confidential and discreet way, much earlier than they might have otherwise.

2. Provide tailored support

Unlike information sent out by the HR or OH team, which needs to appeal to many people at once, digital tools allow information, support and resources to be tailored to each and every individual, based on their current needs.

This not only means employees get directed to the resources that they personally most need, it also means employers can make their mental health support much more inclusive and diverse. Anonymised real-time data, rather than annual surveys, can be used to let employers know what issues their workforce is facing right now.

3. Meet unmet needs

 The pandemic has worsened an existing mental health crisis, yet research published in the Lancet shows people were even more reluctant than usual to see their GP, or other primary healthcare providers, for mental health support during the pandemic.

There is now a substantial burden of unmet needs. Online therapy and wellbeing apps that allow people to access cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which has proved so effective at tackling mild anxiety and depression, can go a long way towards helping people recover.

4. Drive behaviour change

Mental health issues are often the result of unhealthy habits, such as beating ourselves up for how we look, poor work-life balance, being sedentary, poor sleep habits or catastrophizing (thinking we’re going to lose our job because we were five minutes late to a meeting).

Wellbeing apps that include goal-setting and habit-tracking tools can help individuals look at the underlying issues making them feel stressed or anxious, so they can set healthier goals. These might include spending less time on social media, going outside once a day or heading to bed earlier if this is having a negative impact on their emotional health.

5. Monitor progress and safeguard

Because of the data-driven nature of digital health tools, which often include built-in mental health assessments, they allow people to monitor their progress.

This means people can see when they’re getting better, but also when they might be getting worse, with built-in safeguarding to encourage those in need of further support to contact related support services, such as their GP or the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), so they can speak to a counsellor about how they’re feeling.

Louise Abbs is managing director of PAM Wellbeing

If you would like to discuss mental health support for your colleagues, please get in touch at info@pamwellbeing.co.uk

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