If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or stress-related disorders, the world can feel like a lonely place. It’s common to feel as if you’re the only person who’s struggling and to feel embarrassed about admitting you can’t cope. Or at least, that’s certainly the way I felt for a while.
However, in the UK 12.5 million working days were lost in 2016/7 due to stress, anxiety or depression with more than half a million UK workers admitting that they were experiencing symptoms. That’s a lot of people.
No matter how alone you might feel when you’re at your lowest, mental health is a widespread problem and many people find life gets overwhelming at times. The silver lining in this cloud is that because it’s such a common problem, lots of research has gone into trialling different methods. One innovative approach that many people find of real benefit is the use of technology.
Use online self-help services
Talking to someone is often one of the first suggested treatments for someone suffering with mental health problems but in an ironic twist, this is often something that many people can’t face.
The idea of talking to someone about how you’re feeling can seem too hard, and lead to people not seeking treatment. The other problem can be the necessity to take time off work for appointments; if you haven’t spoken to your manager about your problems, it can be difficult to get the time off you need.
Technology can help provide an alternative solution with self-help services that can be found online. Your GP or mental health charities can signpost you to the relevant places, or you can simply search for yourself.
This allows you to progress at a pace you feel comfortable with and can be carried out in the privacy of your own home. There’s no need to have an awkward conversation with work, and you can stay in control of what services you access and how you use them.
The next step along from online self-help is treatment which isn’t administered in a clinical setting, but remotely. This can be useful for anyone who feels anxious about travelling or who prefers the anonymity of managing their treatment at home.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a very effective line of treatment and this can be delivered online. Sessions can be carried out using instant messenger or via email, and “homework” can be set this way too. In some cases, this type of therapy may also involve the use of Skype or video chats, but if you’re not comfortable with this, it’s not essential.
E-therapy has proven to be so effective that NICE recommend it as a treatment for depression and anxiety.
Using routine monitoring
The use of technology isn’t always about the individual seeking out the help they want, a good employer can also play their part.
Prevention is vastly preferable and can make any treatment far more effective, helping the individual to feel better far more quickly. Employers could be in a better position to spot the early warning signs of mental health problems by using feedback forms, surveys and reviews.
Analysing employee information for red flags could allow potential problems to be identified, and appropriate support such as counselling provided.
More to come
With technological developments coming thick and fast, this area is one which is likely to change and grow rapidly. However, for those battling with mental health conditions it represents a refreshing new alternative for treatment and help.