How can companies leverage data analytics to offer employees mental health support?

Although it’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered attitudes towards physical health, it’s also provided us with a unique opportunity to reevaluate how we view mental health within our society. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different ways in which organisations can harness the power of data analytics to support employee wellbeing, alongside the technicalities and ethics involved in such an endeavour.

The ongoing global response to COVID-19 has underscored the need for comprehensive, wide-ranging and efficient mental healthcare systems, with existing gaps only exacerbated by the course of the past two years. Waiting lists for treatment have skyrocketed – partly due to the nature of mental health assistance itself, as well as a growing number of individuals seeking psychological support services due to the impact of the pandemic – and in many cases physical care has been prioritised, for obvious reasons. It’s going to take a long time for the care sector to recover from this influx, and new technologies will need to be employed to ensure that the response is effective and equitable.

We’ve talked about the impact data analytics in having on the post-pandemic physical health industry on this blog before, but there are a number of exciting and innovation changes happening in the mental health sector too. Many organisations are dipping their toes in this field, with a growing number offering virtual counselling sessions or digital programming, for example – but there’s a world of opportunity that at present hasn’t been explored as fully as it could be.

In terms of leveraging this concept for individual businesses, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and each organisation will have to determine the most appropriate course of action to take to fit their unique needs and requirements. A solution that provides effective outcomes is key in better supporting employees, who might not otherwise have access to this form of care. However, offering benefits to your team is no use to anyone if these services are impractical or inaccessible, perhaps due to scheduling conflicts, for example. Telehealth services  have evolved throughout the pandemic, providing employees with the tools to manage their own health in a way that fits easily into their lives.

Data analytics can provide invaluable insights into the thoughts and preferences of patients, highlighting patterns and anomalies that can be used in myriad ways – for example, diagnostic tools can be better developed in order to recognise the first signs of some of the most common mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety. These insights can later be actioned in order to benefit not just the individuals themselves, but also those working in the medical research and drug development fields. By harnessing the power of data analytics, healthcare providers can alter their core approach to treatment, opting for a patient-focused course of action that takes this information and these best practices into account.

Of course, there are a number of ethical issues surrounding the use of something as personal as health data. Secure data storage and analysis solutions are crucial in ensuring this private information is kept on a need-to-know basis, with only those directly involved in analysis able to access it. However, when used safely and responsibly, these data have the potential to kickstart a huge number of positive changes within both the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors when in the hands of the right people.

With a global shift in attitudes surrounding mental health, it’s easy to see why many organisations are taking it upon themselves to better support their teams. By leveraging data analytics solutions to provide tangible mental health care for their teams, forward-thinking employers can expect to create a much more constructive and progressive working environment that recognises and acts on the many unique difficulties workers face in today’s world. 

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