Archive for August, 2018

The rise of mental health apps

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

The rise of mental health apps

In recent years, there has been a huge rise in the number of mental health apps available. There are now hundreds of downloadable programmes and specific content aimed at those struggling with a range of mental health issues such as stress, depression, anxiety and addiction as well as those more generally promoting health and wellness.

Some of these apps claim to diagnose and help relieve symptoms. They have certainly become very popular with users, but how reliable is the advice they provide?

A recent article in Psychology Today highlights the issues citing research from the American Psychiatric Association that warns that self-diagnosing apps are unreliable and may overtreat. The Association has expressed concerns about the kind of advice and diagnoses being given and that these types of apps may lead to excessive self-monitoring without professional guidance.

The article also references a new study led by the Sydney School of Pharmacy, which has analysed 61 mental health apps. Of central concern was how the apps defined mental health and what they signalled as contributing factors to mental illness.

Andrew Kinder, executive board member of UK EAPA said: “The popularity of mental health apps shows the ongoing interest in this area which is helpful in that peoples’ concerns are now being articulated with support options being provided.  However, the efficacy of such apps, for example, who controls the data, the overdiagnosis of everyday stress issues and the over-reliance or placebo on smartphone apps, are clearly concerns which need to be addressed.

“Within EAPs, there is certainly a move to provide a greater breadth of mental health support, including within the digital space.  More can be done to keep EAP offerings modern and accessible, although the benefit of EAPs is that support is offered in many different forms, in person either face-to-face or telephone with clear clinical governance in place which checks their efficacy.”

Neil Mountford, chair of UK EAPA agrees: “Technologies such as mobile apps and web-based platforms certainly have a role to play in enabling wider access to information around mental health issues, particularly for those who are either anxious about seeking one-to-one support either telephonically or face-to-face, or do not have easy access to those services.

“The challenge in an unregulated environment is how the user can make an informed decision on which tools are best for them and contain content and approaches that are credible, clinically robust and backed up by research evidence.  The danger is that some will promote content and advice that is spurious and in some cases could do more harm than good.

“Good quality EAPs will use these technologies responsibly as components of an integrated suite that offers appropriate support, information and onward referral.”

 

Industry news: Morneau Shepell acquires LifeWorks

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Industry news: Morneau Shepell acquires LifeWorks

It was announced earlier this week that Morneau Shepell Inc has completed its acquisition of LifeWorks Corporation Ltd.

Stephen Liptrap, President and Chief Executive Officer of Morneau Shepell Inc. said: “This acquisition brings together the best user experience and clinical support to achieve complete mental, physical, social and financial well-being for people everywhere.”

LifeWorks CEO, Jamie True will join Morneau Shepell as Chief Digital Officer, leading the strategy and development of the enterprise cloud-based platform.

Read the full press release here.

Employee Assistance Programmes are becoming an anywhere, anytime benefit

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Employee Assistance Programmes are becoming an anywhere, anytime benefit

Last week, UK EAPA chair, Neil Mountford wrote for the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) about the latest trends in EAP. In the article, Neil discusses how EAP continues to evolves to meet the changing needs of workplaces and employees and how this can make a real difference to performance.

“The biggest impact is in a re-positioning of how an EAP is used, away from the last resort for serious issues and concerns towards being a more everyday source of advice and support – less the counsellor and more a friendly colleague who has the right answers,” he explains.

The article highlights examples from EAPA members to demonstrate how this is working in practice such as Health Assured’s evolving Health e-Hub, which delivers support videos and webinars on demand; mini Health and Wellbeing checks; online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and interactive engagement features like four week wellbeing challenges. These are all linked back to relevant EAP services as needed.

Another example is the LifeWorks app, which is based on the principle of prevention first. By being proactive in offering preventative check-up ‘life support’ services, a far higher proportion of staff initially sign up and begin to access the personalised ‘health coaching’ resources on offer.

Read the article in full here.

Line manager support is vital to workplace productivity for people with depression

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Line manager support is vital to workplace productivity for people with depression

According to new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), employees who work in an environment where managers feel comfortable to offer help and support with their depression are more productive and take less time off work.

Published in medical journal BMJ Open, the LSE’s research revealed that employees’ productivity levels improved by 6% when they were open about their depression at work. Researchers also found that their levels of absenteeism were reduced by as much as 11 days over 24 months.

The study examined depression in the workplace in 15 countries, including the UK, looking at the impact of manager reactions and support on absenteeism and presenteeism.

The researchers found that 53% of people in the UK reported that their manager had offered to help with their depression. Denmark had the most open managers, with only 2% of respondents saying that their manager had avoided the issue. In the UK this figure was 3%.

The LSE study cited separate research that found around 70% of people with mental illness, including depression, conceal their condition. Fear of stigma and discrimination in finding and keeping jobs contributed to this.

“As evidenced by this study, providing the right advice and support for employees with depression is vital,” said Neil Mountford, chair of UK EAPA. “More training for line managers will help with recognition of the early warning signs as well as improved signposting to support services such as EAPs, benefiting both the employee by ensuring they get the help they need and the employer, with fewer days lost to absence.”

Read more about the research study here.

New report shows failure to address sexual harassment in the workplace

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

New report shows failure to address sexual harassment in the workplace

In a new report, the Women and Equalities Committee finds that the Government, regulators and employers are failing in their responsibilities to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace.

Following a wide-ranging six-month inquiry, the Committee finds that sexual harassment at work is widespread and commonplace but there has been a failure to tackle unlawful behaviours, despite the Government’s obligations under international law.

The Committee also added that employers and regulators have ignored their responsibilities for too long and often legal protections are not available to workers in practice.

40% of women and 18% of men have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace according to a poll by ComRes for the BBC.

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, said: “It is utterly shameful that in 2018, unwanted sexual comments, touching, groping and assault are seen as an everyday occurrence and part of the culture in many workplaces.”

The report calls on the Government to focus on five priorities to put sexual harassment at the top of the agenda for employers: a new duty on employers to prevent harassment, a requirement for regulators to take a more active role, making enforcement processes work better for employees, clean up the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), collection of more robust data on extent of sexual harassment in the workplace.

UK EAPA chair, Neil Mountford said: “It is of grave concern that this is still happening in the workplace and that affected employees are not receiving the help and support they need from their employer. It is clear from this latest report that employers need to take affirmative action to ensure policies and support are in place to demonstrate that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.

“There are also a number of ways employers can ensure support is available to their employees when they need it. Make sure that victims of any harassment know who they can talk to in confidence about the issues they are experiencing, whether it’s HR, their manager or by providing access to a 24/7 helpline, such as an employee assistance programme (EAP).”

Read the full report here.

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