Posts Tagged ‘health and wellbeing’

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.”

 

The importance of promoting EAP services

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

The importance of promoting EAP services

A US study published last week has revealed that the promotion of EAP services in the workplace has a significant and positive impact on overall EAP usage.

The study examined utilisation data from US EAP provider, KGA to explore the impact of different kinds of promotional activity on increasing and decreasing the use of EAP services. Analysts reviewed the utilisation records over a two-year period for 82 employers, with 150,000 total covered employees. Interviews were also conducted with HR managers which uncovered themes around the challenges to promotion and the potential tactics that could be most effective.

The analysis of 5,985 EAP cases found that promotional materials were the number one source of referral into the EAP, with one in three cases citing it.

“This latest study highlights the importance of an effective promotional strategy in driving user awareness and engagement with EAPs,” said Neil Mountford, Chair of UK EAPA. “We know from our members that employers who engage in regular EAP promotional activity, particularly online through webinars, email promotions and apps, can see a significant uplift in usage.”

“We urge employers to consult with their EAP provider and tap into their experience and expertise in creating promotional plans tailored to the needs of the organisation. EAP providers can also advise on which channels have been proven to work most effectively and can help develop the messaging around EAP promotion so that it addresses the specific priorities and concerns of their workforce,” he said.

“The more effort an organisation puts into promoting the EAP programme and driving engagement and utilisation, the better its data will be. This can provide valuable insights into how employees are feeling as well as point to early warning signs of recurring themes around physical or mental wellbeing and general workplace issues and ensures that the right areas are prioritised by the organisation. At a time when mental wellbeing is top of the HR agenda, there has never been a better time to look at EAPs and broaden perceptions around what it can do and how it can fit in with a wider wellbeing strategy.”

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week next week which makes it the perfect opportunity to review workplace health and wellbeing and think about what more employers could be doing to create, and promote, a culture of acceptance around mental health.

While the majority of work-related stress is attributed to workload, around 1 in 7 people say it is due to a lack of support despite EAPs being the most popular wellbeing initiative provided by employers in the UK. So why the disparity? “While awareness is growing, there’s still a significant disconnect between the EAP services already being provided by organisation to support workplace stress and wellbeing and awareness among employees,” explains EAPA UK chair, Neil Mountford. “There are a number of issues at play that are focused around a lack of understanding of what an EAP is and how it can help but also employee concerns about the confidentiality of these types of services. If employers are serious about creating mentally healthy workplaces, a good first step is dispelling the myths and improving the knowledge that exists around EAPs within their organisation.”

This starts with educating managers about the EAP and its services so that they can better communicate this to their teams and signpost more effectively when needed. Organisations could also think about hosting regular EAP awareness and mental health education sessions. By improving knowledge around EAPs, employers can help increase usage of the service and help mitigate mental health issues from escalating to the level of requiring clinical intervention and time away from work.

“We would encourage employers to talk to their EAP providers about working together to develop tailored communications and education sessions to increase knowledge and awareness around the wide range of services provided by EAPs. Organisations that do this will see the long term benefits of a successful EAP and the positive impact of employees wellbeing on the organisation through improved productivity and fewer days lost to mental ill health,” said Neil.

So if take-up of your EAP is low, Mental Health Awareness Week could be the perfect opportunity to start educating employees about what an EAP is and the different ways it can help.

EAPs can help support mental health among middle managers

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

EAPs can help support mental health among middle managers

Last week, the CIPD launched the UK Working Lives survey, the first comprehensive measure of job quality in the UK. Combining previous research on the factors that affect job quality with a 6,000 sample survey, representative of the whole UK workforce, the results show that while overall headline satisfaction with work and jobs is reasonable, there are significant numbers who feel differently, and importantly some major systemic issues with overwork, stress and a lack of training and development.

It reports that while two-thirds of workers (64%) are satisfied with their job overall, one in four workers (25%) feel their job negatively affects their mental health, while nearly a third (30%) say their workload is too much. In particular, the survey highlights a concerning trend among workers in middle management, indicating that they have too much on their plate, a factor which is having a detrimental effect on their wellbeing. Among its recommendations, the CIPD advises employers address cultures of presenteeism, place a greater focus on wellbeing and encourage more flexible working.

“While many organisations already have an EAP in place to support the wellbeing of their employees, there appears to be a lack of awareness around the coaching and guidance element of many EAP programmes which are there to support line managers specifically,” said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association. “We urge employers to talk to their EAP provider about these services and to work together to more actively promote the training and coaching services available to line managers which can help them manage their day-to-day pressures more effectively.”

You can ready the CIPD’s UK Working Lives Survey here.

 

UK EAPA welcomes NICE recommendations to improve employee health and wellbeing

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

UK EAPA welcomes NICE recommendations to improve employee health and wellbeing

 

The UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) welcomes the recently published recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regarding ‘Workplace policy and management practices to improve the health and wellbeing of employees’.

 

“Achieving the focus on health and wellbeing in the workplace, as recommended in this latest NICE report, will help organisations to develop and sustain a strong workplace for the future. As outlined by NICE, promoting the health and wellbeing of employees is good practice and will enable employers to create a healthy and productive workplace, something that EAPs have been encouraging and enabling for many years,” said Andrew Kinder, chair of the UK EAPA.

 

“EAPs have a unique role in supporting employees to identify and resolve personal concerns and issues that may affect job performance. In tandem with the recommendations in this report, it’s important to consider the capability and expertise EAPs have to enable line managers to effectively support their people and equip them with the knowledge and confidence that’s necessary to support employees who are struggling with this type of issue.

 

“The opportunity to make management referrals to the EAP and also encouraging employees to make direct contact with their EAP too is an important factor in addressing the effect that a poor working environment – and its impact on mental wellbeing – can have on peoples’ lives,” he said.

 

To read the NICE recommendation in full, just follow this link.

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