Technology and wellness: How app development is supporting mental health in the workplace

17th April 2019
Technology and wellness: How app development is supporting mental health in the workplace

More and more, the subject of mental health is gaining prominence within the national consciousness. With healthcare budgets stretched and depression and anxiety among adults reaching pandemic levels, the responsibility is falling on all of us to recognise and intervene where a friend, family member or colleague is struggling.

However, the signs are not always obvious and it's not always a comfortable subject to discuss, so many mental health problems are going unnoticed and unchecked. In response to this, advancements in technology and new practices are emerging that provide us with a way to support those facing mental health challenges using smartphone technology.

Mental Health in the Workplace

Poor mental health costs employers £33-£42 billion a year, with an annual cost to the UK economy of £74-£99 billion(1). Maddeningly, only 9% of employers have a dedicated mental health policy for their employees(2).

As employers, we are responsible for the health and wellbeing of our staff, and this includes their mental health. Aside from the time lost due to sickness, there is also the burden of responsibility that the pressure of the job we employed them to do is somehow complicit in any deterioration in a staff member’s mental health.

To overcome this, a number of companies are now taking measures to support their staff with mental wellbeing and have introduced a range of initiatives designed to combat the pressures of the working world. This includes a range of holistic therapies, from desk massages and meditation to lunchtime yoga classes. Now, we have begun to see the introduction of wellness apps being brought into the workplace.

Business Apps for Staff Wellbeing

Millenials in work (the generation raised in time for the WiFi/smartphone revolution) are more stressed than their older older counterparts(3) which is why many forward-thinkers are connecting the dots and pushing apps as a solution.

Apps such as Headspace and Calm provide guided meditations and allow the user to switch off and focus on stress relief. Although not yet clinically proven to work, the evidence that such apps are helping is so strong that GPs and Mental Health Practitioners are now recommending them in lieu of traditional talking therapy.  

With most businesses now providing staff with smartphones or tablets, as well as the ancillary business and staff apps to support them in performing their roles, it’s not a huge leap to begin to incorporate wellness modules within the staff’s apps.

Apps that have been developed specifically for a business can easily be developed to incorporate wellness-focused modules. By taking features from other popular wellbeing apps and including them within the staff apps, this would provide staff with an all inclusive solution that not only supports them to perform their duties effectively, but to do so in a way that is conducive to positive mental health. This could include the use of guided meditations, sleep stories, tips and guidance on relieving stress as well as providing somewhere for them to record their thoughts and concerns.

The mental health challenge isn’t going to go away overnight, and as conscientious employers, it is our responsibility to maintain staff wellbeing. By including wellbeing modules in our business apps, alongside the traditional productivity and monitoring functionality, we can provide our staff with better support in both their professional and personal development.

75% of organisations with health and well-being activity reported positive outcomes as a result of their policies(4), which begs the question - why aren't more companies joining in?

If including wellbeing in your business app is something you’d like to explore, AtomicMedia will be more than happy to discuss your needs and make suggestions. Contact us today to find out how we can help you to help your staff.

 

Sources

1 - Stevenson/Farmer, 2017.
Thriving at work

2 - CIPD & SimplyHealth, 2019.
Health and well-being at work

3 - Cigna, 2018.
360 well-being survey

4 - CIPD & SimplyHeath, 2019. 
Health and well-being at work

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