Half of employees would wear mental health tech device

More than half of UK employees would be willing to wear tech devices that detect mental health symptoms if their employer provided it for free, according to research.

Wearable technologyA survey for Axa PPP Healthcare found 51 per cent of British workers would be prepared to wear a device that detects the early signs of mental health symptoms, and if an employer is willing to supply a device, 45 per cent of employees would be comfortable to share information gathered if it helped with employee health and wellbeing strategies.

The research found 41 per cent of the UK workforce has experienced symptoms of a mental health condition in the workplace

Of those not feeling comfortable sharing information on mental health with their employer, more than two-thirds – 69 per cent – are worried about workplace discrimination or do not like the idea of their employer knowing details of their health and lifestyle. But if the information is anonymised, the figure falls to 50 per cent.

Axa’s Health Tech & You Survey results showed mixed perceptions of sharing mental health issues with employers. More than half of workers experienced symptoms of a mental health condition – 52 per cent – did not discuss it with their employer.  But of those who had talked to their employer, 71 per cent had been supported or helped to manage their symptoms in the workplace.

Working with other stakeholders, Axa has identified five key factors for health tech implementation.

  • Trust.A culture of trust should be established in the workplace with regards to wearing personal health tech to monitor mental wellbeing.
  • Support.Health tech should be used to complement existing face-to-face support for employees not replace human interaction
  • Holistic Approach. The health and wellbeing of individuals should not just focus on the workplace environment, but take into consideration their wider lifestyle outside of the workplace that may contribute to mental wellbeing.
  • Implementation.Tech to support mental wellbeing should be implemented on a personal basis and involve senior management discussing openly their commitment to support those with a mental health condition.
  • Accreditation.Any health tech to be used should be accredited to ensure quality, efficacy and safety for employees.

Axa PPP Healthcare HR director Suzanne Scott says: “In my experience line managers want to support people in their teams who experience mental health issues. Technology opens up a new way to help both the employee and the manager broach the subject and having the relevant data is always a helpful way into a conversation. We are looking at ways we can introduce technology to help us take the next step forward in supporting our people’s wellness.”

2020health founding director Julia Manning says: “Familiarity with smartphones and other consumer tech means people already have tools in their hands to think about supporting their wellbeing. Some good points were made in the discussion about the need for leaders in the workplace to use and champion evidence-based digital health before it can be seen as ‘something for me’. Given the huge unmet need in society for mental health support, if we can get to a place where it is normal, beneficial and safe to utilise digital mental health tools, then I would hope this would build confidence in self-management of wellbeing.”