Work & Wellbeing

How Technology Can Improve Mental Wellbeing Without Being a Barrier to Healthcare

Joel Gujral | 1 March 2022 | 2 years ago

mental wellbeing

As compulsory home working comes to an end and many of us return to the office, the focus for HR teams will be to support employee health and wellbeing as workers shift into new routines.

Over the past months, it has often been difficult for HR departments to successfully engage with remote working employees. Often these interactions have been restricted to video calls or brief socially distanced meetings.

In reaction to increased concerns regarding wellbeing, we are seeing something of a revolution in terms of the support being offered to employees. There has been an explosion in online apps and portals. A recent report by mental health charity Mind found that 30% of surveyed patients benefited from virtual support, as it allowed quicker access to a healthcare professional.

However, despite an explosion in the availability of mental health solutions, unfortunately, the majority are often not fit for purpose. Many don’t take into account different accessibility needs, so disabled employees struggle to use them, and others only come in an app format, which could hold back employees without the right smart devices from accessing them. Technology should help individuals access the help they need, not hinder them.

Technology that’s fit for purpose

Often those that are failed or overlooked by their employer’s current mental health systems are those that are most in need of help. They are provided with a one size fits all approach, which means they are given generic services which do not take into account individual experiences or mental health issues. This can lead to employees being forced to reveal their diagnosis to HR teams or business leaders, during their quest for help.

Additionally, when they do come forward, they are often referred to tech-based solutions. Historically, when interacting with these employees face even more barriers, often in the form of clunky application downloads and websites which are unclear and confusing. As a result, many simply do not get access to the help they need.

In order to fix this, businesses need to offer fully rounded mental health support, that goes above Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or insurance. The solution needs to be designed with a conscious effort to remove barriers. This means no confusing application downloads, and no need for direct contact with HR or management teams when looking for support. Instead, employees should be greeted with an integrated network of support functions that enables them to choose the best type of treatment for their needs, on their terms.

Not only does this increase confidence in helping employees reach out for help in the first place, but it ensures fewer barriers throughout their journey. This keeps employees engaged and with the whole course of their treatment, and enables flexibility to dip in and out for support when required.

What is holding employers back?

Businesses are struggling to overcome historic attitudes to mental health. For many years it was typically either kept quiet or dealt with by occupational health, EAP or insurance. There have been advancements, but many organisations still treat managing employee mental health as a tick box exercise. This is simply not good enough, especially as many businesses will spend vast sums of money on services that aren’t fit for purpose.

Employees need an offering that is proactive in its solutions and connects them to a range of quality, anonymous support programmes and ultimately has the lowest barriers to entry possible. Employee wellbeing must come front and centre. While it has been found that employee happiness has a positive impact on business performance, the major benefit of supporting employees’ mental health is improving the quality of their day-to-day lives. It’s therefore in the best interest of employers to re-think and if necessary improve their offerings.

Positive outcomes of making a change

Not only does technology implemented and used correctly boost the likelihood of employees reaching out for support in the first place, but it ensures fewer barriers throughout their treatment journey. This makes help more accessible to employees with a range of needs and ultimately results in a happier workforce.

Plus, those already within the company will also reap the rewards. Happy workers are 13% more productive, while it has also been reported that nearly all of those planning to leave their current position (91%) would put job happiness as one of the most important factors when choosing their next role. Employee happiness is at the core of company culture, and many businesses recognise this and invest time and money on resources to ensure they are protecting the wellbeing of their workforce.

What we are seeing at MYNDUP is that technology is an accelerator for the breaking down of stigma. If used correctly, it can give those who need it access to real human care and help them improve their quality of life.

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