5 techniques for enhancing mental health in the workplace

5 techniques for enhancing mental health in the workplace
It's easier than you think for poor workplaces to affect mental health. Photo: Caio Triana, Pixabay

The amount of technology we have available to us in today’s digital age is truly incredible.  Our smartphones get smaller and more powerful every year, innovative designs get more creative, and wearable devices become more and more accessible. We’ve never had easier access to so much technology, yet we’re still working in stressful, sedentary conditions which increase our risk of developing issues with mental health, illness, and stress.

Let’s talk about ways we can use technology in the workplace to improve employee lifestyles and combat stress. There are a wide variety of devices, apps, and innovative office equipment that we can use to actively prevent common mental health issues that affect our employees. We’ve chosen 5 of the best new technologies that can help make our lives better and ward off mental health illness.

1- Active work stations

With more and more jobs becoming computer-based, we’re seeing a new phenomenon nicknamed the “Sitting Disease,” which is a really catchy phrase for something that’s actually quite serious.

People who sit during their commute to an office job where they then sit for another 8 hours and drive home just to sit down some more while they unwind in front of the TV can get very sick for lack of physical activity. The results of so much sitting include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, depression, and anxiety. As a species, we’re just not meant to be confined to a chair all day; we naturally need to expend our energy through movement, and physical activity.

The best way to combat sitting disease is to reduce our time in the chair. However, since so many of us depend on the work we produce at a computer desk for our livelihoods that can be challenging. That’s why innovative office furniture that combines stationary exercise equipment with a secure work surface for your laptop can make a huge difference in employee health.

Shop around for options like:

  • Standing desks
  • Workstations that include
    • Stair-steppers
    • Treadmills
    • Stationary bikes
  • Foot pedals for underneath a regular desk

Now, we’re not going to be burning any major calories with these types of workstation modifications, but at least we won’t be sitting totally still all day. They’ll help us get our blood flowing, and release stress by moving our bodies and giving our legs something to do while we work.

2- Fitbits

Wearable devices like the Fitbit are changing the game when it comes to personal fitness. Before we had this handy little watch, there was no instant gratification for our workouts. We just had to stick with our fitness plans long enough to actually see some results in the mirror to know that they were working.

Now, with the Fitbit, we can look at our watch and see that we burned X amount of calories, walked Y amount of steps, and slept for Z amount of hours. Then, we can compare those numbers with data provided by the Fitbit smartphone app so we can tell if we’re on track to meeting our weight loss goals or not. The Fitbit can also alert us when we spend too much time in a sedentary position, track our sleep quality, time us while we practice mindful breathing, and provide data on our heart rate 24 hours a day.

Fitbits provided by the office will help every employee improve their health individually. However, the most interesting application of titbits in the workplace involves promoting friendly competition. The office can hold daily or weekly step battles and offer rewards for more activity to motivate the whole group to get moving.

3- Online counselling tools

Therapy isn’t just for those with severe mental health illness; it can help everyone improve their well-being, maximise their full potential, and ward off common mental health issues. With research backing up online counselling as an equally effective alternative to in-person care, these therapy apps are a great, easy and affordable way to provide everyone at the office with a chance to consult with a therapist.

Perhaps the reason these programs are so effective is that the platform allows for flexible scheduling, and the ability to ‘meet’ with your therapist anywhere in the world, as long as there’s WiFi. Users can schedule sessions while away from home, during the evening, and over the weekends which makes online counselling easier to keep up with than traditional office-based therapy.

These online counselling tools are highly rated and they all use licensed therapists and protect users’ privacy:

  • BetterHelp
  • Breakthrough
  • ReGain – Best for relationships
  • Talkspace
  • MyTherapist

4- Weconnect recovery

Substance abuse and addiction are pervasive problems that affect millions of Americans today, and considering how 70% of all drug users maintain active employment, it’s probably a good idea for all companies to provide some type of support for their employees who need help with substance abuse. Assisting employees in recovery can prevent health care costs, decreases in productivity, the need to hire and train new people, and dangerous mishaps.

One innovative technology can make it easy for companies to support their employees as they overcome a substance abuse problem. WeConnect Recovery is a smartphone app that helps people stay accountable and connected with their support network and counsellors to prevent relapse. It includes rewards for maintaining healthy routines, personalised encouragement, and tools to alert users’ closest friends and counsellors when relapse seems imminent.

5- Spire: wearable mental health tracker

Similar to Fitbit, which we talked about earlier, this wearable device helps people get in tune with their bodies’ subtle cues about their moods. Spire is a small black device that can be clipped onto our belts or our bras and it monitors our sleep quality, heart rate, breathing patterns, stress levels, and activity. By measuring these factors, Spire can alert us to dips in our mood so we can remember to take care of ourselves in order to prevent a full-on bout of depression. For those with bipolar disorder, it can warn users if they’re entering a manic episode so they can take steps to bring their mood back to normal.

After gathering data about your daily habits and stress levels, the Spire App can provide personalised suggestions about how to change your activities to reduce stress.

Thank you for checking out our tips for using technology to improve conditions in the workplace! These tools will help your company achieve its maximum potential by preventing the most common stress-related mental health illnesses. If you’re noticing high rates of burnout, depression, or anxiety consider consulting with a mental health interventionist to discover even more ways to better assist your unique and talented workforce.