(Arnaud Bernaert, Head, Health and Healthcare, World Economic Forum)
AI Psychotherapy is an elegant solution to a common problem – how to help our employees within a budget.
Before the pandemic, we saw organisations offering a variety of initiatives which may have been more for show than for effectiveness. Whether this is bowls of fruit, or mindfulness and meditation, or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), the question is this: does it benefit the employee?
The significant disruption of Covid-19 has served to highlight that mental health initiatives are to be set in place to support the employee, first-and-foremost.
In 2017, the annual cost to corporations around the world due to non-productivity through anxiety and mild-moderate depression totalled in excess of $1 trillion (over £750 billion) (source: WHO).
In the lead-up to 2020, mental health was already high on the agenda of many organisations but there was a reliance upon such standard approaches as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and Wellness Initiatives.
Deloitte’s 2020 report, ‘Mental health and employers’ identified that poor mental health cost UK corporations over £45 billion in 2018 (from £37bn in 2016).
This non-productivity is manifested through absenteeism, presenteeism and staff replacement with the annual impact per employee being as high as over £2,000 per person per year.
During the pandemic, we saw a mental health ‘surge’ with a sharp increase in people experiencing anxiety (health anxiety, loneliness, etc.) and stress (including Post Traumatic Stress).
There is an increased strain on an already-overstretched mental health service that, in some part, has been accommodated by a growing number of apps as well as telehealth calls (Skype / Zoom calls to human therapists).
Surveys by such organisations as YouGov and Mental Health America show that, during the pandemic, workers were more stressed than ever. This included anxiety regarding health, finance, and employment as well as broader issues associated with PTSD, burnout, and moderate depression.
Nearly two-thirds of the UK population (63%) felt anxious at least several times a month during the Spring of 2020. One in five (20%) reported feeling anxious on most days of the week or even more frequently.
Mental Health America’s 2021 study shows the strain on employees with burnout being prevalent and more than half of respondents actively looking for another job.