October 10 was World Mental Health Day, but every day should be mental health day in the workplace. This month offers an opportunity to raise awareness of worldwide mental health issues and actions that we can all take. Studies are consistently showing that mental wellness needs are not being addressed in today’s global market. A recent study found that 75% of Gen-Z employees said they left their jobs for mental health reasons.
New technology identifies behavioral signs that can trigger a mental health episode.
One of the core features of mental health disorders, such as recurrent depression, is that patients are not always aware of how sick they are or how their disorder impacts their behaviors. Left untreated or unrecognized, depression often worsens and can have severe consequences. For example, in the U.S., approximately 120 people per day complete suicide. The key to successful outcomes in treating mental health disorders – like any other recurrent health disorder – is early diagnosis, treatment and relapse prevention.
AI Technology Revolutionizing Mental Health Treatment
New technology is revolutionizing mental health and changing how physicians and patients interact. Companion MX is a Boston-based digital health technology company making waves in the behavioral health space by using AI and voice analytics to identify behavioral triggers that can result in a mental health episode. CompanionMx has partnered with leading institutions such as Harvard Medical School teach affiliates and affiliates such as Massachusetts General Hospital and The Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Companion Mx also has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs to work on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
AI technology is evolving to help businesses understand their employees more completely. Ultimate Software’s expert, Armen Berjikly, Sr. Director of Growth Strategy, says this new understanding isn’t just about statistics like pay and title but what employees’ attitudes are toward the organization: “When it comes to understanding how mental health conditions are affecting employees–or even being aware when someone is in need of extra attention or support–AI and natural language processing (NLP) are helping companies better hear their employee’s voices and ‘read between the lines’ of what, in many cases, they are already telling the organization.”
A Deeper Dive Into Employee Emotions Beyond Traditional Approaches
AI has the ability to process large data sets and transform them into useful metrics quickly. These metrics identify patterns and trends in behaviors related to various mental health disorders. Berjikly explains, “We are able to go beyond the traditional quantitative metrics and look at this feedback in a more qualitative way–sentiment analysis technology has the power to understand what someone feels and why they feel that way. For organizations to best respond to their employees’ needs, it’s critical to be able to glean this level of detailed insight because it goes beyond just understanding whether someone is generally ‘happy’ or ‘unhappy’ with their role, workload and current teams. Instead, this approach is capable of identifying specific feelings like anxiety, confusion and concern individually, whereas a more traditional methodology would group those feelings as ‘negative.’”
According to Carl Marci, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Companion Mx, “When these personalized behavioral bio-markers are juxtaposed with the relevant clinical context for specific patients by thoughtful providers, they are able to create proactive treatment plans tailored to the patient before symptoms become too severe. The secure sharing of objective behavioral bio-markers empowers patients and clinicians by helping them become more aware and make better clinical decisions that subsequently strengthen the therapeutic alliance.”
The hype in the early days of AI was that technology would replace humans, but Dr. Marci insists the human connection is more important than ever with the new technology. “I think we are a long way from replacing human judgment when it comes to clinical treatment – particularly within mental health. The goal is to strengthen the relationship between patient and provider, and AI technology can and should help us by enabling deeper insights into human emotion, cognition and behavior that can lead to improved clinical practice.” And Berjikly agrees: “Sentiment analysis, NLP and AI can help organizations take a deeper dive into emotions that employees often avoid talking about openly and give organizations the insights they need to create more supportive, adaptive work environments where employee voices are heard and their needs are met.”
Mental Health Helplines
If you or someone you know might need help coping with a mental health issue or contemplating suicide, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800-273-8255. You can also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis text live. In an emergency, you can always call 911 or contact a local hospital or mental health facility.
For other mental health issues, contact Mental Health America at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/contact-us to find resources closest to you or call 1-800-273-8255, a 24 hour crisis center.
You can also call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 at the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Trained crisis workers will listen to you and direct you to the resources you need. In an emergency, call 911 or contact a local hospital or mental health facility.