Technologies in the workplace to support mental well-being are currently conquering the human resources departments, but experts warn that it should not be seen as a quick fix.

Imagine stepping into the office break room and instead of making coffee and complaining about work, put on a VR headset and listen to the voice of a therapist taking you through a meditation session to a calming place far away.

Whether the experience has the desired effect is controversial – and there is a growing awareness of the potential drawbacks, but this form is part of a brave new world of office-based technologies designed to support well-being in the workplace.

Virtual reality for HR departments

VR technology, previously only used by psychotherapists to treat patients, is now being offered to corporate HR departments. Companies in Spain have begun signing up with Psious, a VR and Augmented Reality (AR) technology company that has developed ways to leverage VR and AR to support mental health and behavioral problems from phobias to anxiety disorders.
Xavier Palomer, managing director of the Madrid-based company with a bio-engineering background, came up with the idea four years ago when talking with a friend who was afraid of flying. He realized that the relaxation techniques his friend had developed with a psychologist could have a bigger impact next to exposure therapy tools.

VR for nerve calming

“It can be used to help people calm their nerves, relax, or become better spokespeople.” Palomer says he has responded to a trend as clients have already introduced mindfulness programs in the office and were so ready As the technology has become cheaper and more accessible, opportunities have opened up, and a range of apps and online services have been introduced to help employees manage their mental and physical health, as well as stress, anxiety, and Depression is the most common reason for taking a day off, employers certainly have an incentive to provide support.

Apping of life – health apps in everyday life

The programs for smartphones and tablets as well as for the wrist as watch or band, so-called wearables, are a megatrend. The flood of offers is barely manageable. It is not always distinguishable whether the apps offer only information, belong more to lifestyle and fitness or rich in medical areas.

Experts warn

Healthy skepticism is appropriate for health apps that claim to be self-diagnosing. Even apps that give concrete treatment recommendations, avoid it better. Applications that provide only unclear information on how to handle the data entrusted should also be handled with caution. The collected, highly sensitive data could be used for commercial purposes that are not in the interest of the user.

Awareness of Mental Health in Enterprises

However, it is important to avoid, in terms of mental health, relying solely on technology to promote well-being. It is encouraging to see that organizations want to provide resources to their employees, but the downside is that we can overwhelm ourselves with smartphone technology – it is becoming a further requirement and may require engagement through social support (such as spending time with family and friends) of whom we know how important it is for our well-being.

Support yes – full replacement no

While some apps may be helpful additions to coaching or other employee support, they are certainly not the answer. When thinking about well-being and stress, it is important to think about all sorts of causes – individual factors, but also organizational factors. For example, a mindfullness app can not reduce your workload or train your manager. If well-being is associated with major organizational issues, an app can be a misdiagnosis of the problem. In addition, employees can sometimes be quite suspicious of why an app is being spent. The greater the disappointment, if only made available to make them more productive.

How do I recognize a trusted app?

The manufacturers are required to provide transparent and comprehensive information about the respective app. It must be clearly stated what the app is intended for and for what not. Information on risks and limitations of the app, reliability of the content, data protection aspects and the lenders are also included in the description.

Some questions and issues about which the manufacturer’s information should provide information:

– What is the purpose of the app?
– What limits, risks and restrictions does it have?

  • Are the authors qualified and are the sources of information used reliable?
  • Is the data entered, used and stored on a voluntary basis?
  • Is there a detailed imprint with information about the manufacturer and contact information?


Interesting links:

Virtual therapy and stress busting apps

Study: CHARISMHA – Chances and Risks of Health Apps Study Charisma

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