Addressing the Importance of Mental Health Care in the Workforce

mental health care in the workforce

New research out today! Edith Cowan University has completed an evaluation of the All of Me software solution to investigate the impact it can have on mental health care in the workforce. The White Paper is now available to download.

Stress, anxiety, depression and drug use are recognised as the most common mental health disorders (Australian Bureau of Statistics, March, 2016; World Health Organisation, 2014). These disorders are negatively affected by high job demand, burnout, a lack of job resources and personal health issues exacerbated by stress and anxiety at while at work.

Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, burnout, alcohol and drug related behaviours reduce well-being and result in lost productivity through absenteeism, presenteeism and low work engagement (Grawitch, et al., 2017). The loss of productivity and high cost of rehabilitation (13.3 weeks off work and $22,200 average costs per claim) has seen organisations seeking increased mechanisms within their well-being programmes.

What is All of Me?

All of Me is a software solution that has been developed to provide organisations with an additional measure of staff stress, anxiety and depression while increasing mental health literacy and encouraging help-seeking. The software has been designed to reduce the stigma associated with poor mental health that inhibits help-seeking for support to improve mental health care in the workforce. Following the JD-R perspective, the animated refresher training scenarios have been designed to equip staff with strategies to empower them to make the changes they need in order to improve their well-being when faced with difficult and challenging work and life events (change, relationship breakdown, bullying). All of Me utilises the psychosocial safety climate model (PSC) built upon the JD-C model to develop a predictor of mental health risk in an organisation specifically linked to organisational climate and job role. All of Me does this using animated scenarios and reinforced by good coping strategies. All of Me works within a positive organisational climate identified within the PSC model that encourages management support and commitment, organisational communication, organisational participation and involvement and management priority.

Mobile health applications are becoming widely used by individuals accessed via smart and wearable devices. Portability and convenience have made these devices and health and fitness applications popular tools for recording and tracking personal health goals. Mobile applications for behavioural mental health interventions have been shown to be useful tools to decrease levels of depression and reduce stress, but two studies on managing stress and alcohol provided conflicting results (Payne, Lister, West, & Bernhardt, 2015). There is a need for further research into behavioural interventions using online tools to determine their efficacy. To this end the purpose of this evaluation was to determine the usefulness of All of Me according to the experience of the end user. Although the data collected by the survey was limited, it did provide some valuable insights.

Study Results

Overall, most respondents used All of Me because their employer had asked them to. It is not an unusual organisational expectation to encourage employees to participate in well-being surveys and programmes. Some users were genuinely interested in the topics and sought to learn more. Staff generally found All of Me to be easy to use (especially by female users), enjoyable, trustworthy and were not suspicious or cynical about the application. They strongly believed that any information provided in using the application would be kept confidential and would not be released to the employer. Particularly encouraging is the level of trust in the information provided by the application, as trust is one of the key components required to address mental health issues to break down help-seeking barriers.

All of Me has been designed to increase mental health literacy using work examples. What is interesting in the results is that the respondents have the highest level agreement with the statement “I would recommend to people that might benefit from it”. They also acknowledge the usefulness of the tool to address these issues, as they were willing to recommend it to other people to use that maybe experiencing mental health issues at work.

Respondents felt that All of Me had increased their awareness of the importance of addressing mental health behaviour and increased their knowledge and understanding about negative mental health behaviour and good coping strategies. When the responses are analysed according to gender, the female respondents showed a higher level of agreement in relation to All of Me increasing their motivation to address mental health issues and to seek further help if required.

All of Me goes some way to meet organisational goals to improve mental health care in the workforce by training and informing staff and it appears from this evaluation that the application was generally well received. Uptake of the app is yet to become a habit, however it is expected that this could form over time with continued use. From this evaluation, All of Me would not be adequate as a stand-alone solution, it is however, an additional means to engage staff in a very sensitive topic using an alternative delivery method. It is therefore recommended that All of Me be used within a developed well-being programme to improve mental health care in the workforce. E-mental health is an emerging field of study and further research as to the impact of mental health solutions delivered via mobile devices is needed.

All of Me was featured in the West Australian 4/10/17.

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