Posts Tagged ‘stress’

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.”

 

Promoting EAPs during National Stress Awareness month

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Promoting EAPs during National Stress Awareness Month

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17. During the same period, more than 500,000 workers stated that they were suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. GPs also report that symptoms of stress are on the increase in the UK, with the majority of GPs (85%) reporting a rise in the number of patients with symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in the last five years according to a survey by Royal London.

While the majority of work-related stress is attributed to workload, around 1 in 7 people say it is due to lack of support. Yet we know that Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) are the most popular wellbeing initiative provided by employers in the UK. While awareness is growing slowly, a gap still exists between awareness and the services already being provided by organisations to support mental health issues. “The issue here is that while some employees are aware their organisation has an EAP, they don’t necessarily know what it means and how it can help,” says Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

“Hosting regular EAP awareness and mental health awareness sessions can help give employees a better understanding of mental health , as well as an awareness of the services and support available to them. Improving knowledge of how EAPs can help will also increase usage of the service. If there are concerns around confidentiality of the EAP, it is vital to communicate that any discussions are private and confidential and will not be shared with their employer. It also helps if managers have a better understanding of the EAP and other support services available so that they can talk to employees about these.

“In order for an EAP to deliver significant benefit and value, employers need to work with their providers to raise awareness and provide education for employees. Organisations that do this will see the long term benefits of a successful EAP and the positive impact on employee wellbeing and organisation through improved productivity and fewer days lost to mental ill health. Line manager education and coaching on how best to manage mental health issues is also a key part of the equation and while EAPs have the capability, expertise and capacity to do this, this is less well known and utilised by employers.

“If take-up of your EAP is low, consider creating events or communications to tie in with key events on the wellbeing calendar and help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Ultimately, it is in the interest of all EAP providers to raise awareness of the issue of mental health at work and the role we can play in eradicating the problem and April’s National Stress Awareness Month could be the perfect place to start.”

Pressure at work is key cause of employee stress

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in mental health

Pressure at work is a key cause of employee stress

Given that pressure at work and a poor work / life balance are key causes of stress and mental health issues, new research that indicates employees are feeling pressure from their supervisors, colleagues and technology to work during their free time should be of major concern for employers, said Neil Mountford, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

The research from the University of Surrey calls for employers to do more to ensure employees are not subjected to pressure to work outside of their contracted hours and reminds us that an individual’s failure to disconnect from work can negatively impact on an employee’s wellbeing.

“Whilst employees do need to take personal responsibility for how they plan their working day and how they balance demands from their employer and clients which may naturally fall outside their standard working hours, there will be occasions where these circumstances impact on an employee’s mental health and wellbeing. Where this does happen, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) can demonstrate their value as an accessible and confidential channel that provides professional support for employees whose mental health is being impacted by pressure at work.

“Of course, EAPs can only become truly effective here where employees are aware of the scope of support that is available to them to help reduce the impact of poor mental health on their wellbeing and their work. Here it’s important that EAPs are regularly promoted to employees and that, within the organisation, they continue to be positioned as part of a wider wellbeing and engagement strategy that reviews the extent and impact of work / life balance on the culture and productivity of an organisation,” says Neil Mountford.

Totaljobs.com – Andrew Kinder on how to handle workplace stress

Written by Vicky Mulchinock on . Posted in News

Andrew Kinder on how to handle workplace stress

In an article just published on TotalJobs.com, Andrew Kinder, chair of the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association, takes a look at how to handle stress in the workplace.

He says: “One way to manage stress levels is to create some coping and support mechanisms that can help you to manage the tough times and give you the opportunity to ask for and receive help and support from those around you.”

The article goes on to include a number of strategies you might adopt for managing and minimising your own stress at work. You can find out more about these and read the full article here.

 

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