Pros and Cons of a Mental Health App for the Workplace
Here are 6 pros and cons of mental health apps for work.

Technology has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, including the ability to access mental health resources virtually. This is important when considering that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 264 million people suffer from depression globally, with many of these individuals also experiencing anxiety. Additional research by WHO has found that a total of 450 million people experience mental or neurological disorders around the world. Further studies have shown that anywhere from 4% to 20% of the Asian-Pacific population has a diagnosable mental health problem.

This has prompted many employers to seek out new ways to ensure that their employees have access to mental health resources. Research has found that 42% of global employees have experienced a decline in mental health since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic caused many to experience heightened levels of anxiety, and APAC market index higher than the global average of 30.5%, with 42.5% for Japan and 31.6% for China. To account for the ever increasing importance of mental health accessibility, many businesses have started offering mental health apps. These apps, such as MindFi, provide self-directed mental health resources, as well as a plethora of other wellness options. Read on for a list of pros and cons of mental health app for work.

Pros of MHAs (mental health apps)

A study conducted by Monash University discovered that 76% of survey respondents “would be interested in using their mobile phone for self-management and self-monitoring of mental health if the service were free.” Needless to say, in today’s highly digital age, mental health apps are here to stay. Here’s three perks that users can look forward to when utilizing a MHA.

Easy accessibility

There’s no question that technology has ushered in a myriad of new possibilities in mental health support and services. Mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets, are enabling counselors and health care providers to connect with individuals in new ways and through new avenues.

Perhaps one of the most significant advantages to a mental health app is their easy accessibility. China, for example, is overwhelmingly positive on the role of technology in health and wellness, with 91% of survey respondents believing that technology has a positive role to play. Thanks to technology, employees now have the option to seek mental health treatment from their phone.

MHAs are a great introduction to mental health care, especially for those who are new to the scene. Many people may be intimidated by the idea of traditional, face-to-face therapy or unable to afford the costs associated with care. Others may be daunted by the idea of pursuing mental health care as a result of negative stigmas that still surround the topic. Still others who reside in rural areas might have logistical difficulties accessing in-person services. Accessing mental health resources on one’s personal device enables individuals to receive care from the convenience and comfort of their own home.

Increased health benefits

A survey conducted in the Asia-Pacific region in 2021 found that high workload and long hours were among the leading mental health strains at the workplace. It’s more important than ever for companies to invest in their employees’ health and wellness. MHAs that have been properly designed have been proven to show a noticeable improvement in users’ mental health. In 2017, Torous and an international team of psychologists pooled data on the efficacy of 22 different mental health smartphone apps. The results, which were published in the journal World Psychiatry, revealed that mental health apps made individuals feel less depressed and less anxious. Similarly, they discovered that these apps also helped reduce schizophrenia symptoms, and even helped some users to stop smoking.

MHAs are a simple, yet effective, way for companies to do their part in creating a healthy workplace culture. This shows employees that mental health accessibility is a priority and offers practical ways to access resources. The potential benefits of supporting employee mental health includes increased productivity and decreased health care and disability costs. By encouraging employees to utilize mental health services available through MHAs, companies can cultivate a positive work environment where workers will thrive.

Lower costs

Affordability can be a hurdle for those looking to pursue mental health services as many individuals consider therapy to be an expensive undertaking. Thanks to their lower cost, mental health apps can help to make access to care much more convenient. Employers who purchase bulk packages from MHAs to provide care for their employees can help reach individuals who otherwise might not be able to afford therapy.

Cons of MHAs (mental health apps)

An IMS health study found that there are more than 165,000 mental health apps available on the market today. While these apps undoubtedly have a plethora of positive attributes, they also have some cons. Here are three of the most common cons for mental health apps.

Lack of proven effectiveness

Mental health apps come in many shapes and sizes. As a result, it can be difficult for HR professionals to determine their efficacy. A study conducted by the University of Liverpool revealed that there is a lack of experimental evidence for mental health apps as compared to other types of self-help methods.

One mental health app might facilitate self-guided journaling, readings on mental health, and breathing exercises. Another mental health app might only offer mental health counseling in English. Yet another mental health app might offer chat-based consultations. Each app will boast their own adoption and efficacy rates.

How should efficacy be measured when “mental health apps” tend to lack clearly-defined scopes of services?

Concerns surrounding privacy

While the popularity of mental health apps has unquestionably skyrocketed in the past few years, there are still concerns involving a lack of privacy. Apps handle sensitive personal information, and it’s imperative for app makers to find ways to guarantee privacy for app users. Healthcare providers are working tirelessly to address these barriers: MindFi, for example, is confidently GDPR compliant and ISO-certified.

Services are too superficial or limited

Since many mental health apps are designed to target a wide audience, they run the risk of being unsuitable for certain conditions. A meditation app, for example, would be great for employees with low levels of anxiety. However, it wouldn’t be able to offer much assistance for employees facing depression, severe burnout, or stress. Therapy booking apps, on the other hand, may primarily provide support for employees with diagnosed mental health conditions. Such an app would be ineffective for employees simply seeking life guidance, financial advice, or career coaching.

Services that MindFi offers

After considering the pros and cons of mental health apps for work, it’s important for employers to carefully consider which app best suits the unique needs of their workforce.

MindFi offers inventive ways to improve mental health and tangible ways to be more resilient, focused, and energized. Users are equipped with a rich variety of resources and tools to help them achieve their mental health goals, including a unique community-based approach that provides employees with safe, inclusive support from peers. Employees can schedule 1:1 therapy bookings on topics like finance, anxiety, or health, join group therapy and sharing sessions, and access a library of self-help video and audio resources whenever they need.

MindFi is a great option for those who have difficulty with in-person appointments or services. Employees can access these services anytime and anyplace, providing an unmatched level of flexibility and convenience. Download MindFi today to begin exploring powerful wellbeing services. Or request a demo and get a complete insider look into our mobile EAP solution.

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