5 indicators to find effective digital mental health solutions and avoid burnout

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you’re like most working Americans, you’ve had work stress at some point. But when it’s cumulative and chronic, it leads to burnout. According to Indeed research in 2021, 52% of employees report being burnt out. Those working virtually were more likely to say that burnout had worsened during the pandemic (38%) than those working onsite (28%). Indeed’s 2022 State of Small Business Hiring Report found that 42% feel constantly overwhelmed, 33% have experienced burnout, 31% have been unable to take time off or vacation due to vacancies, and 41% say their stress levels have increased significantly.

What is digital burnout and how to prevent it

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially classified burnout as a medical diagnosis, including the condition in the International Classification of Diseases: “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic work stress that was not successfully managed”. The more severe your burnout, the more stressed you are at work and the more difficult it is for you to fulfill your professional obligations.

Digital exhaustion– caused by too much screen time and not enough green time – saps the energy and focus of legions of people who spend hours working remotely, practicing telemedicine or taking online courses. Digital burnout harms your mental and physical health and jeopardizes long-term career success. “Now that we all spend hours every day on Zoom,” said Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive globally“we need to create new rituals and practices within Zoom Meetings to avoid virtual fatigue.”

Once the burnout sets in, you run out of gas and have given up hope of overcoming your obstacles. The key is prevention, and five practices can help prevent digital burnout:

  1. Take regular breaks. Burnout can occur when we spend too much time concentrating on something without taking a break. Especially when working from home, it can be harder to know when to stop working or step away from your digital devices. In addition to taking time to recharge throughout the day, be sure to use the digital calendar tools to let your colleagues know when they can and cannot contact you.
  2. Value human interaction. Opportunities for face-to-face human interaction have been rare over the past two years. With in-person meetings going virtual and stay-at-home mandates limiting social mixing, it’s easy to spend more time glued to digital devices. But it can contribute to a host of health issues, such as poor posture, headaches, and even obesity.
  3. Focus on one task at a time. When you’re pulled in multiple different directions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the workload. Feeling this way can be one of the main causes of burnoutso be sure to prioritize your time and not stretch yourself too thin.
  4. Use Screen Time features. Modern smartphones are equipped with features that allow you to track the time spent on your device. They also have tools that can be turned on and off to help you focus on the task at hand and avoid distractions throughout the workday.
  5. Avoid back-to-back meetings. Back-to-back meetings throughout the day can have a serious impact on your productivity and mental well-being. Whenever possible, try to schedule meetings of 25 or 55 minutes, to give you and your colleagues time to take a short break between calls.

5 Guidelines for Finding Effective Digital Mental Health Solutions

Studies show that 96% of employers provide mental health resources to their staff, but the effectiveness of this support is not always reflected, and only one in six employees feel supported by these resources. According to Jennifer Gendron, Koa Health’As a business manager, technology companies around the world strive to develop innovative technologies to meet the unmet mental health needs of a global market. But she adds a word of caution to consumers. “While this movement has accelerated the mass accessibility of mental health resources, consumers are left to determine which solutions are legitimately helpful and which have the potential to cause more harm than good. It has never been more critical to decipher the solutions that can offer effective support to those who serve only as a mere distraction. »

With so many digital mental health solutions to choose from, Gendron offers five criteria to help you identify which are the most legitimate, effective and accessible:

  1. Evidence-based modalities. Many apps claim to be evidence-based, but only 3% of solutions have evidence to back them up. Asking about a solution’s clinical trials and third party evidence will protect you from misrepresentation and ensure proof of concept.
  2. An ethical approach and a personalized user experience. Mental health is not a one-size-fits-all issue, so why would you take a one-size-fits-all approach? Users care deeply not only about the effectiveness of a solution, but also about its accessibility, lack of bias, and reliability. Very few people are interested in another hard-to-use tool and even fewer want to use a product that doesn’t include their unique life experiences. And hardly anyone is willing to hand over their personal data to a service provider that doesn’t offer adequate protection.
  3. Led by experts. Many products on the market don’t even have the backing of a single mental health professional, let alone an experienced team of behavioral scientists, psychiatrists, and mental health experts. The best solutions will be backed by industry thought leaders and mental health experts. Does the company have a scientific board? Who sits on their board of directors? Research the brand’s clinical history to better understand who is providing the expertise and advice.
  4. A range of modalities. There are plenty of apps out there that offer a solution, like meditation or sleep training or telehealth counseling to address the full range of mental health issues. But the best workplace mental health apps have been designed with in-depth knowledge of the mental health continuum and offer multiple modalities to help the widest range of people provide support at all levels.
  5. Rooted in science. An effective digital approach to mental health will leverage existing therapies to guide the most effective user journey. The best digital solutions will also have healthcare content certifications from third-party reviewers like ORCHA (Organization for Healthcare and Healthcare Application Review) or NAICS (North American Industry Classification System).

The mental health crisis is expected to continue for years to come. The importance of identifying effective and accessible digital mental health solutions that will be essential in helping the workplace deal with current mental health challenges.

Maria D. Ervin