UK workers turning to technology for mental health

Written by NTN staff

Workers in the UK are open to using a range of technologies to help look after their mental health, according to the results of a survey from Accenture.

Often, proliferation of social media can act as the root of a problem, exacerbated by access via new forms of technology, so it is good to see the coin flipped and technology potentailly acting as a source of “good”.

A survey of more than 2,000 workers in the UK found that four in 10 people are already using technology – such as online services, mobile apps and wearables – to manage stress, improve sleep and boost mental wellbeing; the number is even greater – 46 percent – among those who have experienced mental health issues.

This proactive use of technology is happening as significant proportions of people report mental health challenges, with more than half (55 percent) of respondents saying they’re either experiencing mental health issues now or have had mental health issues in the past.
The majority have used or would use online counselling services or helplines (72 percent), apps for meditation or relaxation (69 percent), online chatrooms and support groups (67 percent) and interactive GP services (65 percent). In addition, approximately half (52 percent) would use a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence to support their mental wellbeing, and slightly more (55 percent) believe that virtual reality can be helpful in managing mental health issues.

Two-thirds (67 percent) of workers who have used technology to support their mental health said their choice of technology was based on recommendations from healthcare professionals. However, one in three workers (32 percent) are willing to use technology to support their mental health without any professional guidance, and three in four (75 percent) would consider using tech without knowing how well it was tested.

The impact of high-profile people speaking out about their own mental health challenges was believed to be the biggest factor influencing people’s willingness to talk openly about mental health issues, cited by more than half (53 percent) of respondents. In contrast, within the workplace just one in five employees (22 percent) said they would be open with colleagues about mental health issues.

The survey also found that younger workers are far more likely than older ones to use technology to support their mental health. For example, 75 percent of Gen Y and Gen Z respondents said they would use smartphone apps to manage their mental health, compared with just 53 percent of Gen X respondents and 36 percent of baby boomer respondents. Male workers are particularly likely to seek support through technology: Among Gen Y respondents, 86 percent of men – compared with just 66 percent of women – have used or would consider using apps or interactive tests online which help diagnose mental health.