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Remote Mental Health

Remote, flexible work is here to stay. Psychotherapist MELISSA ST. JEAN checks-in with the American Psychiatric Association regarding our mental health inside the world’s new workplace.

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The APA recently conducted an online survey of 10,000 remote workers in 2021 which made a startling observation. The majority of all remote employees working from home say they are experiencing negative mental health impacts including; isolation, loneliness and difficulty getting away from work at the end of the day.

“In light of the pandemic, mental health is on peoples’ and employers’ minds,” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D. “What’s worrisome is that given this discussion, many people, particularly younger people, are still worried about retaliation if they take time off for mental health.” In fact, more than 4 in 10 employees are concerned about encountering retaliation if they seek mental health care, or take time off for their mental health, and younger workers are the most cautious. In fact, the study found that nearly 6 in 10 employees 18 - 44 years old are highly concerned about being fired or retaliation for mental health needs.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association is the main professional organization of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in the United States, and the largest psychiatric organization in the world. The association publishes various journals and pamphlets including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM codifies psychiatric conditions and is the worldwide guide for diagnosing disorders.

While working from home has advantages and benefits, what’s increasingly clear is that it presents a peculiar downside to a particular demographic. Of the nearly two-thirds who reported feeling — isolation, loneliness, and difficulty getting away from work at the end of the day — 75% of those were 18 – 44 years old. In fact, Millennials are the most adversely affected by remote work and the most concerned about retaliation.

Human Resources / Digital Therapeutics

Old HR practices are starting to feel antiquated, and employers are starting to use new strategies to acquire, foster and manage talent. New online platforms called digital therapeutics may be the newest consideration as employers review their benefits packages in the new workplace landscape. They provide private, clinically proven mental health support for employees. Plus, they can offer tangible feedback on utilization, impact and satisfaction that employers can use to make important decisions regarding benefit offerings moving forward. Dennis Urbaniak, an Executive VP with Digital Therapeutics at Orexo explains.

“As organizations remain remote or move toward hybrid work models, we anticipate they’ll begin turning toward technology to address mental health challenges.” However, digital health and digital therapeutics offer different pathways to mental health. While the former is advisory in nature, the latter offers unique and clinically proven benefits that are held to the same standards of efficacy, care, and oversight as traditional medical treatments.

Self-Care / Remote, Hybrid Work

The rational mind is a faithful servant, and accessing the APA whenever and wherever the remote employee may need it most — at lunch, during a bus commute or after work — regardless of geographical location, workday flexibility, or even a reluctance to speak about mental health issues at all is really the key to integrating a mental health tool into remote, hybrid or in-office work.

Mental health apps such as Calm or Headspace, or mental health training for supervisors and managers, are educational/inspirational by nature and useful in human capital and resource management. What they’re not is the standard bearer of America’s Psychiatric Association. As we settle into our new remote and hybrid work arrangements, consider visiting the APA’s Center for Workplace Mental Health for toolkits and webinars on Covid-19, remote work and more.

The Center for Workplace Mental Health is not only educating employees about mental health policies, but empowering employers to create a supportive workplace environment for remote, hybrid, and traditional in-office employees. As the Millennials prepare to dominate the U.S. Labor Force within 5 years, its important they understand the law, embrace their company’s standards and practices, and most importantly tap into and unlock the unlimited potential of the brain.

A state of well-being is one in which we fully realize our own abilities; can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and are able to make a contribution to our communities. As they assume the management of faraway places from their remote corners of the world, perhaps the Millennial’s competitive advantage will be to consult a resource that understands and connects us all.

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