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For any progressive business, employing the best people is only a job half done. The key is to train them and get the best out of the unique skills that they bring to the table. Employees just cannot be productive without them being at their mental and physical best.

COVID-19, as a season of immense challenges, has managed to bring mental health issues into the forefront again. 

Statistics suggest that around 42% of employees across the globe have reported a decline in mental health, and many of the issues faced remain unreported or in many cases, undiagnosed. 

Mental health issues could strike anytime, affecting anyone. Some of the associated symptoms could be in the form of declining performances, doubt in capabilities, varying tempers, Insomnia despite rigorous exhaustion, and a whole lot of others (the list is so enormous that it may take an entire article to list them all).

The WHO estimates that depression, anxiety disorders, and other conditions cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. The cost of it is of course much more when you count the consequences that the respective individuals and families may face in the short and long term.

There’s a light at the end of every tunnel, indeed. This digital era, and the number of smart devices it offers, make wellness programs widely accessible and affordable. This article discusses how and highlights the steps employees must take to inculcate a culture of happiness and productivity.  

Why Go Digital 

Accenture Research reported that across England, people increased their use of mobile technology to manage physical and mental health by 30% from 2016 to 2018 

As may be obvious, the use of remote-based technology has tremendously cemented its place in the last few years. This has eased the way of life across all facets of society, offering immense potential and scope to the digital workspace in an hour of necessity. 

Mental health is a niche segment, and yet one of the most misunderstood. Our minds are the trickiest to comprehend, so much so that we fail to realize the inherent need for support. We are in general attuned to what we do, believing that we have it all sorted out. We may not even realize the problems we have, or of the heights we could dream of with a clutter-free, driven mind. 

Workplace-based digital solutions provide an opportunity for the many virtuous organizations to provide employees with an opportunity to dive into the whirlpool of courses that are tailor-made for each of us, so that we can come to terms with stress factors that may lay undiscovered in the corners of our mind,. and have it tackled before it is too late.  

 “From our experience, a lot of patients struggle to seek help for a long time because they try to solve their problems on their own. The magic of digital solutions is to give patients that opportunity, empower them and reach them early.” –  Hanne Horvath, founder and vice president of business development at HelloBetter, a digital mental-health provider

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly developing and even giving us an expanded version of it in the form of the Internet of Behaviour (IoB).  Here we have a technology that can gather the data collected by IoT, combine the same and form a comprehensive record of user information, for the purpose of analysing and influencing user behaviour. This is what a smartwatch does when it assesses your health and lays out recommendations, what a smartphone does when you self-report your mood or record your voice to understand your emotional state. Let’s say that an employee is not producing his best and/or is evidently feeling low, a digital app could diagnose the near-accurate reason for the same and suggest essential remedies that could address this at an individual, team, or organization-wide level.   These are nothing but a gist of what IoB can do amongst its many different capabilities. 

The next level of support forms the core, and may even result from the former as a measure. These techniques range from meditation to hypnosis to cognitive behavioral therapy. 

The vagaries of life, and the challenges and politics of the workplace, could dull the shine of the best of people around. If we don’t realize the necessity of prevention & treatment programs now, we never will.

44 percent of companies have implemented personal well-being and enrichment programs, and 52 percent offer mental-health and bereavement counseling – A McKinsey Report. 

It’s Not One-Size-Fits All 

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” ― Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

The mental health market is wide in scope and introduces plenty of options that cater to well-being. Different technologies offer solutions to different challenges, the likes of which are offered through various digital modes such as desktop applications, smartphone apps, wearable devices, or visual collaboration tools. Each of these programs varies in type and purpose, and are rendered through different modes of technology.  

Given this complexity, we cannot anymore cling to a one size fits all approach. The choice of mental health program must be made judiciously based on the unique needs, challenges, and objectives of your workplace, and by considering the characteristics and preferences of your employees.

Ponder these

Your obligation does not begin or end in organizing medical care, which as we saw involves astute planning & consideration. It is even more important for them to educate employees on the need for such programs and emphasize that the data that they share would be treated confidentially and as per the specified data protection laws. Very importantly, the mental health facility that you may provide or encourage must be duly supported by a sound and reliable workplace culture. 

 “If a company wants true behaviour change, it starts at the top. Executive and stakeholder partnership from the beginning is absolutely critical for any mental well-being and mental-health employee program to be successful” – Lindsay Crittendon, senior strategy director of Headspace for Work

Last but not the least, not all employees may enjoy quick access to the platform you are providing. Some of them may not have the access to the technology, while others may not be that tech-savvy. Such a digital divide must be tackled effectively to make sure that optimal results are gained from any mental health initiative. 

Remember, it’s Paramount 

It is increasingly getting evident that the digital mental health ecosystem can change the way well-being is perceived and received across people of all ages. This brings mental health closer to us than ever before, helping us to unlock or manifest the potential that we already inherit. The mind is a very powerful yet subtle element, and it needs the nourishment of the right kind.