Organisations employ many young workers, but as we know each generation is different and has different needs. How do you provide the best support for young worker mental health? We review a paper that was published online in 2015 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research that may help to provide some answers.
E-Mental Health and Help-Seeking
Traditional help sources – doctors, counsellors and psychiatrists – who provide support for mental health issues are not only overwhelmed, young people often don’t access them. At the same time, young people are highly competent at using the internet and mobile devices. This paper explores how effective e-mental health care is when compared with traditional help sources. Subsequently, the authors argue that e-mental health has a key place in young worker mental health and that it represents an important form of help-seeking for young adults. The research recommends that professionals and policy makers should take note.
The Internet is a Key Medium
The research shows that the internet is a key medium for reaching young people. The Internet is completely natural to young workers who are digital natives, where it is a key part of their lives and a predominant source of health information. This comes as no surprise as we see this generation and many others glued to their mobile devices. Given their general love of, and capability with, technology, providing quality online mental health information to support young worker mental health has huge potential benefits including:
- easy accessibility
- absence of geographical boundaries
- free access
- potential social support
- anonymity and privacy
- potential to address the gap between identified needs and limited resources
Concerns are that disparities exist in access to the internet and computers, the information quality (although several studies show that it is reasonable), financial interests and competition with conventional services.
“Nothing has changed clinical practice more fundamentally than one recent innovation: the internet. Its profound effects derive from the fact that while previous technologies were fully under doctors’ control, the Internet is equally in the hands of patients. Such access is redefining the roles of physician and patient.”
Mental heath issues are challenging for young people because anxiety, mood, or substance use disorders tend to be frequent (75% of lifetime cases emerge by age 24 years). Most substance-misuse disorders occur between 19 and 21 years and mood disorders between 24 and 30 years. Due to unsatisfactory access to mental health care, only 18-34% of young people experiencing high levels of depression or anxiety symptoms seek professional help. In the preceding 12 months, of the study’s 1,214 French participants:
- 65% reported seeking e-mental health care in case of psychological difficulties
- 7% reported psychological difficulties
The results found that if personal income was a barrier to using services, it is not a barrier for internet use. Further, that young people are using online help-seeking combined with other services, not substituting online services for other resources. Young adults who reported using e-mental health care sought more help from psychologists than those without e-mental health care.
E-mental health care does not hinder traditional treatment. Instead, it appears to be a step in the help-seeking process. Several reasons are proposed by the authors. First, e-mental health care may enhance mental health literacy. Second, it may contribute to a more active attitude which is important in treatment as well as increasing health empowerment. These are positive reasons to consider using e-mental health to support young worker mental health.
For young adults, and indeed young workers, e-mental health care signifies a helpful form of accessing support. The authors recommend that professionals and policy makers recognise this and aim to improve the quality of online information on mental health care as well as to use this fact in clinical services. We believe that rather than competing with traditional services, e-mental health offers a complementary option for those seeking easily accessible, anonymous and free assistance. This is particularly helpful for young people. The current surge of interest in e-mental health care will likely propel better and more widespread possibilities through Australia.
E-Mental Health Solution
Mental health solutions delivered via smart devices and online are an efficient way for organisations to provide quicker and accessible support and training for young worker mental health. One solution is Tap into Safety which is unique in that it offers training delivered online and via smart devices, anywhere, anytime on relevant workplace topics that impact mental health using fun animation, gamification and interaction. As part of a well-being programme, the solution helps business to support young worker mental health better by providing relevant and interactive workplace training.
The solution offers ‘one click away’ from help to reach out for support (on average only 5% access their Employment Assistance Provider, when 20% have an issue right now – stigma plays a huge role here). The solution increases help-seeking by 100% as shown in the product evaluation conducted in 2017. By encouraging help-seeking early we reduce the escalation into serious stress claims.
Finally, the diagnostic tool (animated, gamified DASS-21) is a world first in its use across organisations, that together with our filters, enables them to pin point groups of staff in mental health decline so that they can target and tailor their wellbeing education programmes. This not only saves them money; their programmes are now more effective. To learn more please take a look at the video below: