Over the last 18 months it has become even more apparent than ever the role employers can take in wellbeing strategies. These days HR professionals need to do more than contracts and reviews; they can also be a holistic resource for ensuring that their people thrive at work.
Despite a growing prevalence of mental health issues in the workplace, with an estimated 15% experiencing them, or 1 in 7, people don’t like to discuss mental health in the workplace. It’s still a real taboo.
The latest ONS data reveals that 17.5 million working days are lost annually to poor mental health. Deloitte estimates that poor mental health in the workplace costs £45 billion a year to employers. Yet not all firms have a wellbeing policy in place, or know how to have these sometimes challenging conversations with employees. There’s a need for better training, and better tools.
Smart organisations are using technology and services that already exist to augment their policies and offerings. By making the most of technology and digital, good HR teams and managers can help their employees help themselves in an effective yet scalable way. It’s not about shifting the buck, but about empowering people. UK-based startup Psychology Technologies (PSYT) is one company that is making this possible. Their range of self-help solutions includes Anxiety Solution, Self Compassion App, and Grief Works, all apps developed and authored by experts in their field and underpinned by robust and rigorous proven research and evidence.
In each app, a structured, guided and interactive programme takes you through a self therapeutic process broken down into bite-sized chunks that you can work through at your own pace. Users are encouraged to absorb helpful information and ideas, and are shown how to apply the advice to their own life with interactive tools they can access anytime. It’s only through contemplation and taking action that habits are formed, so the apps are practical in nature, encouraging real, lasting change.
Self compassion isn’t just a nice-to-have thing to have in your personal life. It has a central place in business too. Rather than being soft and fluffy, self-compassion has been shown to reduce self-criticism, anxiety and low self-esteem, and help people to be more confident, manage setbacks and remain motivated in this face of difficulties. So employees with high self-compassion are likely to be less stressed and more able to perform their role effectively. Based on groundbreaking research and the Compassionate Mind Workbook by Dr Chris Irons and Dr Elaine Beaumont, this brand new app uses the exciting field of Compassion Focussed Therapy to empower users to take a kinder stance towards themselves.
Chris says: “We know that mental health has a big impact on how we show up in the workplace. Just like a bullying coach can drain confidence and enthusiasm from an athlete, If we criticise or berate ourselves, we’re less likely to perform at our best at work. Self-compassion is essential to the wellbeing and effectiveness of employees.”
Anxiety Solution app combines cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, breathing tools, sleep stories and more to allow people to understand their anxiety and learn how to manage it. Between 2008 and 2018 anxiety grew significantly, more than doubling from 9.08% to 21.69% among those aged 25 to 34, and increasing from 8.42% to 30.33% among women aged 18 to 24. With more than 70 easy-to-use tools and step-by-step advice from anxiety coach Chloe Brotheridge, Anxiety Solution will help them manage what can be a debilitating yet misunderstood condition. It was authored by Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist, coach and author, who knows everything there is to know about anxiety. She struggled with social anxiety and panic disorder for many years before seeking professional help and eventually training to support others in the grips of anxiety.
This is increasingly important in the boardroom and business. High functioning anxiety is a growingly present yet hidden condition. Many of the traits of this type of anxiety are things we praise in the workplace, for example people pleasing, busy, successful, in control, detailed focused, high achieving, and perfectionism. Because it’s not a recognised mental illness, support is difficult to come by. And because people with it are so driven, they often don’t want to ask for help.
Having a convenient tool like Anxiety Solution means that people can manage their own anxiety at a time when they might not want to speak out.
Grief Works is an innovative new way to receive grief therapy through your phone. When grief is left unresolved, it can have a serious impact on mental health; up to 15% of mental illnesses are estimated to be caused by grief. Based on the best-selling book by Julia Samuel, MBE, UK’s leading grief expert and a Vice President of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, this tried and tested grief management toolkit has helped hundreds of people move to a place of acceptance and live happy fulfilled lives, even after experiencing the devastation of losing a loved one.
She says: “The last few months have been devastating for many. Amongst those that are devastated are people who have been bereaved. To add to their suffering they fear speaking about their grief at work, worried it will make them seem less able, or over emotional. Yet it has a huge impact on mental and physical health, and thus productivity and performance. Great employers recognise this and put in tools and strategies to help support people. A first step would be to recognise everyone’s grief is both universal and unique. Acknowledging their employees’ bereavement is a great first step – asking what they need would be extremely helpful – and in my experience unusual.””
Mental health shouldn’t be something businesses ignore. Taking care of employees’ mental health is essential to being a good employer and getting the best out of people. In other words, it’s good for individuals, and good for business. Including apps like those from PSYT into an easily accessible toolkit of mental health resources will enable great businesses to support their employees to thrive, whatever life throws at them.