Mental health issues are a widespread problem that for many have been hugely exacerbated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available for mental health problems, and there are also plenty of ways that employers can help.

Investing in mental health can have immense benefits for any organization. There are many options for doing so, with apps and other forms of technology being one of them. It’s important to realize that there are both pros and cons to using apps and other technology as part of a mental wellness plan. Therefore, employers should be careful to take the time for thorough research and planning, and to consult with a health professional if needed.

There are thousands of mental health-centric apps to choose from on the market today, and the amount of choices can often be overwhelming. Some apps or other forms of technology designed to support mental health may be better set up to use at a company-wide level. They may also easily integrate into an existing wellness and health promotion program.

Many factors are at play when it comes to improving mental health

Your first thought might be to select a highly-rated app that focuses on common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress. However, it’s also important to realize that the causes behind and triggers for these issues can be multi-faceted and complex. Therefore, it can be beneficial to gather as much information from your employees as you can, to determine what is likely going to help them the most.

For example, upon questioning your employees, you may discover that physical activity levels are generally very low. Exercise is widely praised for its mood-boosting effects and positive impact on mental health. If this is identified as a problem area in your workforce, then you may look at apps and technology that are focused on physical fitness. The overall effects of focusing on this area could be far-reaching for your employees, with improvements in mental health being one potential benefit.

Similarly, nutrition also plays an important role in mental health. If poor nutrition is identified as a key problem area within your workforce, then technology that helps employees improve their eating habits or provides some type of nutritional counseling could be a great investment.

Another area of health that can directly impact mental health is sleep. It’s important that employers are aware of the basics when it comes to the importance of sleep, and how they can help their employees sleep better at night.

[Find out about sleep-specific apps that may help positively affect mental health in “6 Apps That Could Help Improve Your Sleep Hygiene”].

Of course, many apps now offer a more holistic approach. They may cover several areas of health that all work together to positively affect an individual's mental health and wellbeing. Certainly, an option that offers customization to meet the needs of each individual is well worth considering, as it will allow your employees to get the most out of the technology and tailor it to their unique pain points.

[Find out more about apps that cover various areas of wellness in “8 Workplace Wellness Apps to Boost Your Wellness Program”].

The best mental health apps and other technologies for employees to consider

Some of the most highly recommended mental health specific technologies for employees to consider are summarized below. Remember that it’s important to understand the root cause of any mental health issues, and more specific options are also available. The options below are some of the best general options for employers to start exploring when they're considering how to improve their wellness offerings.

Meditation apps

The incredible benefits of meditation for the brain should not be underestimated. There are several well-established meditation and mindfulness apps that can help improve mental wellbeing by helping to evoke a sense of calmness. Examples include Headspace, Calm, and Buddhify.

Happiness and mood-boosting apps

  • The 5-minute journal app focuses on setting your day up with gratitude, and then reflecting at the end of your day and ending on a positive note
  • Daylio is a self-care mood journal that includes a mood diary and happiness tracker
  • Moodfit is based on a holistic approach to better mental wellbeing. They offer tools and insights including goal setting, journaling, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, sleep and lifestyle solutions, and more
  • MoodMission and Sanvello both aim to help people deal with low moods, anxiety, and stress, and the SAM app has been specifically designed to help with anxiety
  • Happify uses games and activities and helps you track and measure your emotional wellness. They also offer solutions specific to companies.

Wearable technology for mental health

Coming in at the number two in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2021 was wearable technology. Going beyond fitness, sleep, and nutrition tracking, some wearable technology has now been specifically designed with mental health in mind. For example, TouchPoints is a wearable device designed to alter the body’s response to stress.

Technology solutions specific for companies and organizations

  • Moodbeam has produced wearable technology that tracks how employees and teams are feeling throughout the day.
  • Think’n has created a web-based mental health program for employers. It is designed to reduce stress levels, increase resilience, and offer coping strategies
  • Spring Health offers personalized solutions for mental health issues in the workplace. They provide support based on what each individual needs help with, whether it’s an addiction, trauma support, relationship help, or something else
  • Virgin Pulse suggests that employers start with their mental wellbeing toolkit to gain access to free resources that will help your teams with their mental health
  • Joyable is based on the work of top anxiety and depression experts. Their mental health app focuses on easy 5-minute activities to support your entire team

Organizations that provide other forms of online support such as counseling for mental health

  • Mind shares information and advice, and offers support such as helplines, for better mental health
  • Talkspace takes you through a brief assessment before you choose your own licensed therapist and receive 24/7 support. Choose from live video, messaging, or phone, as per your preferences
  • Betterhelp also offers online counseling with a licensed therapist
  • Youper creates personalized solutions to help people overcome anxiety and depression. The pathway includes assessments, daily guided therapy exercises, medication delivered to your door, and progress check-ups

Other Factors to Consider

As part of the research process for selecting the best technologies for your workforce, employers will also need to consider factors such as:

  • Individual employee preferences, needs, and willingness to use the technology
  • Security and privacy of personal or confidential data, as well as research and credentials behind the technology
  • Any training, education, or other types of support that may be required for using your chosen online tool
  • Pricing options and associated features with each pricing level, as well as any other fees involved
  • How to measure and evaluate the successful adoption of, use of, and results from the app or other technology to see if it's effective and beneficial to your workforce