New app changing mental health in the workplace

With all the stresses of the modern-day world, it should come as no surprise that one in four of us will experience difficulty with our mental health. Whether it’s caused by money problems, a stressful job or simply feeling as though you can’t cope, being on top of mental health is becoming more and more of a priority for people – particularly in the workplace.

One in 10 of the employees surveyed in mental health charity Mind’s 2016/17 Workplace Wellbeing Index reported their mental health as very poor, so clearly more needs to be done to ensure workers are being supported and better looked after.

“Employers need to appreciate the effect of poor mental health on their company culture” – Abigail Rappoport, Chief Executive, Emoquo

This year’s winner of the AXA Health Tech & You Award in the Mental Health in Workplace Challenge is Emoquo, a confidential coaching app that has aggregated advice from trained coaches and therapists to guide individuals through workplace stresses and anxieties. Whether it’s a nightmare colleague or struggling to get through to your line manager, Emoquo confidentially coaches users through difficult conversations and problems they may face in the office.

The app’s founder, Tim Aston, brought in Abigail Rappoport as chief executive two years ago. With years of experience of working at a senior level in several major corporations, she cites top-down management as one of the primary causes of employee stress.

“I’ve come from the corporate world and it’s so top down,” says Rappoport. “Senior management have to make changes, but line managers and staff are the ones who have change done to them. It has to be completely turned on its head – and that’s what we’re trying to do with Emoquo. We’re saying: ‘It starts from the individual.’ And if you make sure the individual has the support and help they need, in the moment they need it, that’s going to change the world.”

Rappoport says that the Emoquo app builds up a picture of how each individual user reacts to situations they may find stressful or difficult within their workplace.

“We really try to understand each user as they come in,” she says. “The whole methodology behind the app is about building emotional resilience in individuals. We all have bad days and good days and that’s fine, so we just keep a check on it to see how employees are doing overall, as well as serving up specific, practical help.”

While Emoquo can be a lifeline for employees, it also gives employers valuable insight by anonymising, aggregating and analysing the data received by users. This means employers can look at their weaknesses, when it comes to supporting vulnerable staff members, and implement changes to the working environment. The app has also helped to bridge a generational divide, says Rappoport: “We found particularly with the millennial workforce that they’re really happy to go through an app.”

Within his role as the head of Proactive Health at AXA PPP healthcare, Dr Chris Tomkins is already implementing changes to help employees who may face challenges, including mental health first aid – a public health programme that trains practitioners to intervene with those who may be experiencing mental distress. He believes that employers need to appreciate “the negative effect of poor mental health on the culture and energy in their organisation”.

“Being more proactive around mental health and the causes of these issues will give a more energised and focused team,” says Tomkins. “Emoquo addresses the need for more positive interactions between colleagues and uncovers potential issues in the behaviour of organisations. We must provide solutions in the moment and place of need, and mobile digital solutions are an effective way of doing so.”

Source: The Guardian

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