We now belong to the era of “work from anywhere” culture. Organizations are offering flexible working conditions and remote workplace opportunities to their employees. But, are these benefits enough to balance out the physical and mental challenges employees often face at their “anywhere” workplace environment. Mental health is negatively affected in remote working environment, irrespective of all the other benefits that such employees have over on-site employees. According to a recent research on how people deal with modern working environment (remote and on-site), there has been a rise in awareness among the HR people and business owners about mental health issues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A large number of HR people are now using HR Technology platforms to create a sound and healthy environment for their employees.
In this HRTech Series primer on mental health issues, we are bringing you the top AI and HR Technology platforms that employers use in their organization.
Understanding Mental Health
Mental health comprises of emotional, psychological, and social well-being of a person. A person can not be termed healthy if they are not mentally fit. Mental health also decides how a person’s interpersonal relationship, their ability to handle stressful situations, and also affects their ability to make decisions.
There are many factors that can affect a person’s mental health. A drastic change in social and economic parameters, stressful work life, change in financial circumstances, childhood traumas, and bad medical conditions are some of the few factors which can prove a hindrance to a person’s well-being.
One of the recent examples of change in both social, medical, and economic patterns is the pandemic Covid-19. People being stuck at home alone, with social interactions being limited to just phone and video calls, led to an increase in the number of people suffering from mental disorders. According to WHO, rates of already-common conditions such as depression and anxiety went up by more than 25% in the first year of the pandemic, adding to the nearly one billion people who were already living with a mental disorder.
This has led world leaders and tech scientists to sit back and take notice. Technology has always been directly linked to adverse effects on mental health. But now the scenario is changing. With growing cases of mental disorders, tech scientists are trying to develop technology to help mentally ill people, in an easy way. With more and more big companies investing in tech projects, which could address and help with mental health.
Now, tech is digging its root deeper in the mental health care system. We can find technologies that can help with any kind of mental disorder.
Modern Technologies that can help with Mental health
Mental health has always been a taboo subject to discuss. Even though the scene is changing in developed countries, 2nd and 3rd world countries still have a lot of scope for improvement. With cases of mental illness growing every year. The need for easily available technology is increasing simultaneously. Below are a few examples of how technology is emerging as a game changer in helping with mental health.
Prescription Video Games
It may sound strange but FDA approved the world’s first prescription video game in June this year. EndeavorRX is the world’s first video game which is designed for kids with ADHD between the ages of 8-12years. This futuristic-sounding technology-based treatment was in the works for many years, but it is a reality now. This game changes the young patients so that they can focus on multitasking within the game. It is an excellent example of technology that makes treatment not only effective but also fun for today’s kids. It has proven to treat these young patients’ mental health efficiently by harnessing their natural habits.
The number of AI-powered tools is increasing rapidly. Now the technology could be used for anything and everything. AI had a major breakthrough in the field of mental health care. Not only therapists are using it to help their patients through teletherapy, but there has also been an influx of AI chatbots like Weobot, Tess, and Wysa. These chatbots can help patients manage their symptoms between appointments and practice CBT strategies prescribed by their therapists.
AI has proven very helpful for therapists and psychologists, especially during the global pandemic. A therapist could now use AI to diagnose illness much earlier by analyzing the symptoms and could make more accurate treatment plans. They also take the help of AI to validate cognitive behavioral treatment CBT. As CBT focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and breaking them, psychologists could use AI to discuss strategies of change and plan future treatments.
CBT aims to identify negative thought patterns and find ways to break them, meaning therapists use statements to discuss methods of change and planning for the future. This kind of AI-powered therapy has proven effective for patients suffering from Covid-19-induced anxiety, opioid abuse, etc.
Virtual Reality Tools
The fall in the cost of VR tech in recent years has given rise the innovative therapies which are were earlier out of reach for ordinary therapists and patients. Research conducted during the past few years has proven the success of VR tools in treating many mental illnesses and disorders.
VR is best used in treating people with Post Traumatic Disorder or PTSD. By using virtual reality, psychologists expose their patients to the trigger and source of their disorder. This form of therapy exposes the patient to the source of their condition, in a calm and controlled environment. Combined with relaxation training, patients are enabled to adapt to their stress. The patient is exposed to it gradually, with the level of threat decreasing and eventually removed. It helps with managing patients’ feelings of anxiety, caused by their source and condition.
Another way VR tools have verified their efficiency for mental health care is with their usage in treating phobias and addictions. Therapists use VR tools like Bridge Trek, to manage the anxiety and fear of their patients in a controlled environment by controlling patients’ sensory experiences and by turning their fear into a game. With the progress of the patient, the game’s difficulty levels also increase, with situations getting more stressful. In the case of addiction, therapists use VR tools to replicate the patient’s behavior related to their addiction. This helps them to observe their reaction and create a proper therapy plan.
Technology has been successful in bringing mental health care to everyone’s figure tips. Mobile applications to help with mental health have flooded the market. While most of these are free, some charges a minimal fee to help phone users manage their mental well-being.
Applications like BetterHelp, provide therapy and counseling services at affordable cost at the patient’s convenience. It provides access to mental health resources by providing weekly live audio and video session. With BetterHelp the patient has access to unlimited messaging with their therapists.
With growing work-related anxiety and stress, there is a dire need for an app that can help people calm down. Apps like Calm and MoodMission are some of the apps available in the market which serves the purpose. MoodMission helps the user by creating missions based on their current feeling. These missions help the user manage their anxiety and reduce their stress levels.
These are just a few examples of mobile apps which can help with mental well-being were in fact their hundreds of apps available on the market. Mobile users can pick and choose the ones that can best serve their purpose.
For years, technology has been linked to inducing mental disorders. But the time has taken a big turn now. Even though there are still some harmful effects of tech on people’s mental well-being, tech scientists along with leading psychiatrists are developing technologies to help their patients. With the research and developments still ongoing, it would not be wrong to say, like in every other field, technology is also the future of of health care system.
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