7 reasons why businesses should be adopting e-mental health solutions.
The numbers are in, and to be cliché, they are depressing. The total cost stemming from mental health issues to the US economy is conservatively estimated to be at least $74 billion per year, with 1 in 4 people suffering from mental illnesses worldwide. Governments have begun increasing access to mental health services by using e-Mental Health methods and supporting the creation of technologies to aid in this field. E-Mental health uses the internet, mobile applications and other technologies to deliver or enhance mental health services while increasing and supporting care as it is currently provided.
Depression, stress and anxiety are the leading cause of workplace disability claims and absenteeism. Each day 500,000 people in Canada alone miss work, and this affects 30% of business revenue. In the States, large employers have increased coverage for tele-healthcare benefits from 48 % in 2015 compared to 74% coverage in 2016. This is done through privatized Employee Assistance Programs (EAP's) and other benefit plans to service the growing physical and mental health needs of their employee's while at the same time protecting their bottom line. This means it's not all doom and gloom for businesses when trying to find mental health and well being solutions, however it means those businesses that are not providing these services are falling behind on productivity, employee support and on their societal contribution. Here is some further information to help you understand why its now more than ever necessary to implement specific mental health policies and take the cyber plunge for mental health in the workplace:
There is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness: whether it’s talking about it, having it, having your mama have it, everything including the act of visiting a therapist, is stigmatized. But why that stigma still exists in this day and age, falls neatly in line with other long sought after answers for why there is still racism, poverty and denial of climate change - it's beyond reason! Yet, because the world of reality exists, it is that stigma that continues to stagnate growth in industry, personal relationships and self actualization all as a result of the societal parameters negating peoples perceived or experienced narratives to speak openly about their mental health struggles while on the job. Accessing mental health services without anyone being privy to your actions is therefore still a necessary option for many people.
2. Convenient benefits coverage
In countries where universal health care coverage is available, employees have access to mental healthcare and in most cases to additional EAP's that have shown to create an increase in employee's uptake of benefits. However, long wait times for health service provision necessitated adaptation of E-mental health services. Countries such as Sweden, Britain, Australia and more recently Canada are leading the pack in utilizing innovative online therapy services to successfully cater to their populations. Businesses have also started taking advantage of e-mental health strategies because of the convenience of access for employees and the less time off work it affords them for psychotherapy appointments. For countries without universal healthcare, E-mental health services are being provided with businesses contracting therapist networks and organisations that specialize in the well being of employees, to assist in safeguarding their human capital.
3. Availability of service variety In continuing to find the best fit for industry, the assistance of different tools, applications and types of mental health professionals have started becoming mainstream for businesses with unique needs. Some of the well established online interventions include Internet - Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (iCBT) and online behavioural monitoring programs. Some of the most inventive solutions have been the use of Creative psychotherapists and independent mental health consultants to cater specifically to the diverse structures and workforce composition of an employer. This is a good thing, the main task is how to find what the best mental health fit is for your organization.
4. Maintaining Productivity
All jobs have a degree of stress to them no matter how much you love and are passionate about them. This means that employees are constantly having to navigate between their passions, the job, family and social life. This incessant maneuvering always comes at some emotional or physical cost which spills over into the workplace lessening commitment levels to the job. Maintenance, support and implementation of mental health interventions through the use of technology are preventative solutions for averting imminent mental health crisis in the absence of continuous services. This decreases losses to productivity and results in annual savings of £250,607 in an organization of 1000 employees (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2009)
5. Business Intelligence: Determining the businesses emotional tone.
Some examples of research that has looked at how emotions manifest in language online indicated that share prices are known to have been affected by statements issued by stakeholders on Social Network Systems (SNS). Therefore, knowing the emotional tenor of comments circulating around one’s company can be useful business intelligence. The sentiments expressed online can impact a business' revenue and reputation, and that's well known, however the internal pre-empting of employees emotional state can be done through e-mental health risk assessments and policies and businesses need to take advantage of this for their sustainability.
6. To serve gender specific needs
Trying to cater to the gender needs within the workforce can be a delicate operation. With women already being documented as highly marginalized when looking at pay equity and promotions over men in the exact positions (particularly if they have family responsibilities) within the workplace, they can sometimes compensate for these stressors emotionally and physically through the toll it takes them to compete to close the gap. Men on the other hand are not socially allowed to be emotional or overtly dissatisfied with their jobs as they are expected to be workhorses that bring home the bacon and a healthy sex drive. This leads to constant bottling up of emotions as asking for help can be perceived as weakness. Bridging the gap through digital mental health methods allows the spectrum on emotional needs to play out at an employees preferred pace, builds confidence for connecting with community within the workplace and encourages self-efficacy and eliminates fear which contributes to a businesses ability to constantly innovate.
7. Accessibility, adaptability, affordability.
Digital health products have become an extension of our bodies for the most part. People love products and services that make their lives easier and run more efficiently. All the better if these products keep them healthy, are reasonably priced and are not a pain in the eye socket to implement or use. An example of these types of products and services in the field of mental health are mood tracking applications, lifestyle regulation technologies and online mental health practitioners services. The increase in all of these digital health products and services in the past 5 years show a competitive and evolving market and consumer acceptance for the industry that is evidently fulfilling a need in a fast paced world. Figures show that employees prefer not to be constrained by geography and the stressors of commutes, and businesses are beginning to take advantage of digital mental health services to create supportive family and in-home tools and stress reduction office environment plans. E-mental health services also evolve with the businesses needs, with the speed of technology aiding in the adaptability to change.
With everything there are also the cons to these pros, and with this industry are some valid concerns that need attending to in order for seamless adaption of e-mental health systems. However the successes in this industry have become too hard for the absolute benefits to be ignored especially at a time that governments are scrambling to service the growing mental health needs and businesses are suffering to find means in which to attend to this and still maintain healthy profit margins and productivity. Along with their ambitious goals and lofty revenues to match, Those businesses that are leaders in this front are seen as invested in their human capital and empathetic towards their employees needs rewarding them with employee loyalty and input.
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