Managing employee mental health is a constant challenge. Unfortunately, there is no one solution that will be that magic silver bullet to solve the issues of rising levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Organisations need to offer a variety of solutions and regularly revitalise mental health and well-being programmes. But budget and time constraints can affect what an organisation can deliver and the level of support that they can provide.
The big issues of tackling stigma and encouraging help seeking leave many struggling to enact change and see improvement. Encouraging employees who are experiencing mental health issues to seek help is important because they can then begin to make some positive changes. With 20-25% of the workforce experiencing a mental health issue at any given time, organisations need to do more.
Many organisations provide Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) support; however, research shows that:
50% of people with declining mental health, don’t or won’t seek help.
How can we encourage help seeking and reduce stigma?
There is evidence that people with mental health difficulties may not feel that they need help. They are often pessimistic about the effectiveness of treatment or receive poor care and may not understand how and where to get treatment. They may delay treatment or don’t fully undergo the treatment.
The most common barriers to seeking help are:
- Difficulty in scheduling an appointment – long wait times, services under pressure
- Not knowing where to get help – who to ask, what type of treatment to seek
- Getting time off work – shortage of after-hours appointments
- Leaders discouraging treatment – staff shortages
The most common barriers to seeking help associated with stigma were:
- Confidentiality – the fear that someone would find out that the person was receiving treatment
- Negative career impact – the fear that by receiving treatment and key people coming to know about it at work would jeopardise their promotion opportunities
- Judgement of co-workers – no longer being treated the same by colleagues.
See our post on 3 steps to a mentally healthy workplace.
The average Australian mental health stress claim costs $75,000 in workers compensation costs and requires 15 weeks off work. Investing to Save is a joint Mental Health Australia and KPMG report that provides tangible options to delivering additional economic and productivity gains for businesses supporting workplace mental health. One of the recommendations includes the introduction of mental health wellbeing screening checks. Any employee who is screened to have heightened depression are immediately referred to a psychological service. This is an effective tool in increasing employee wellbeing and reducing lost work days.
Digital and mobile mental health applications have become a recognized delivery method for health and mental health communication and training. Using digital applications was recently noted in the KPMG report and recommended as a mainstream support service by the Australian Regulator, Safe Work Australia. Mobile health applications play an important role in supplementing and extending traditional delivery channels of mental health support, e.g. face-to-face counseling services, printed materials, presentations and lectures, and TV, radio, and movies.
- Provision of ‘virtual’ treatment to patients via who can’t easily access health care.
- Internet-based and telephone services that provide health information via text messages or phone calls.
- Websites that publish information on health and mental health.
- Wearable devices, e.g. fitness trackers.
- Apps that are downloaded to smart phones to provide health information and support, often linked to other resources and services available on the internet.
The list of health and mental health services via apps is growing and this delivery method is gaining significant global support mostly due to the 24/7 connectivity and immediate delivery of information. In addition, as technology improves, delivery methods of mobile health is accommodating consumers needs delivering information and support, via text, audio, images, video, games, artificial intelligence, etc.
Offer employees easily accessible self-screening tools and secondary prevention tools online and by digital applications.
See our post on supporting employee mental health on a limited budget.
Quality mental health training
Tap Into Safety has a new per use ‘credits’ pricing model which provides access to mental health training for a low fee, with no lock in contract or annual license.
Tackling mental health decline and managing depressive symptoms is not solved in a one sized fits all approach. Organisations need to offer a variety of solutions and activities to encourage people who need help, to reach out and do so as early as possible. If you would like to know more about our Mental Health Solution contact us and try a FREE online demo today.