New Study by SilverCloud by Amwell Suggests Housing and Cost-Of-Living Crises are Negatively Affecting Workplaces

SilverCloud® by Amwell®, a leader in digital mental health, has released one of Ireland’s most comprehensive employee mental health studies to date, analysing the wellbeing of more than 500 employees in medium and large organisations to determine the state of their mental health, in a post pandemic world and how well supported they felt. In parallel, Amwell conducted 10 in-depth interviews of human resource managers of companies with more than 500 employees and wellness experts.

The extensive research, carried out in partnership with brings into focus what many experts have feared, that in a post-COVID world, Ireland based employees are facing several challenges that are having a significant and demonstrable effect on the mental health of the population, including job insecurity, a cost-of-living crisis, and a housing crisis. These issues are impacting workers across the country with over 6 in 10 reporting feeling down, depressed, or hopeless several days or more often in the two weeks preceding the research.

Financial worries have the biggest negative impact on employees’ mental health 

In a cost-of-living crisis, it is unsurprising that ‘money worries’ are the external influence that has had the biggest negative impact on employees’ mental health and wellbeing over the past 6 months. Youth mental health charity Jigsaw has warned that services are stretched more than ever, with thousands more accessing their services in 2021 due to Covid-19. Additionally, the cost of living and wait times for mental health services increased by 68% last year, according to the Dublin Simon Community’s latest annual report in 2022.

Dr. Thomas Richardson, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology said, “There is research showing a strong relationship between money problems and mental health: Those in debt are more than 3 times as likely to struggle with their mental health problems. The cost-of-living crisis is increasing the number of people struggling financially and has the potential to lead to stress, depression and anxiety for a lot of employees. I co-developed ‘Space from Money Worries’ for SilverCloud® specifically to help reduce the impact of money problems on mental health, and vice versa. Money and mental health can be a vicious cycle, and this programme aims to help break this cycle. Space from Money Worries works to reduce people’s worries about money, overcome anxiety to get more on top of finances, and feel more hopeful about the future when money is tight”.  

The research revealed that mental health challenges are experienced differently across the employee lifespan. 

Those aged over 35 and those with children were less likely to rate their mental health as ‘good’. Half of those aged under 35 have felt stressed, anxious, burnt out and overwhelmed at work in the past 6 months, with long working hours a significant driver of this negative mental health among this cohort. While for those aged 35+, balancing work and home life is reported to have the biggest negative impact on mental health.

The research found that when employees are struggling with negative feelings or emotions at work, concentration, productivity, and quality of work are the areas that are most impacted. Absenteeism also is commonplace with 6 in 10 claiming to have taken one or more days off due to their own mental health needs over the past 6 months.

Adoption and benefit of digital mental health solutions in the workplace is evident among employees. Within companies that currently offer a digital mental health or wellbeing solution, 7 in 10 (72%) employees claim to have availed of it when provided and 9 in 10 (92%) claims that the solution was beneficial to their general wellbeing and mental health when it was availed of.

88% of employees surveyed also cited the benefit of being able to work through receiving mental health support at their own pace on a digital mental wellbeing platform. 

Dr.Dan Duffy, Digital Health Scientist, Amwell says “We are seeing a shift in employers’ attitudes to the need for supporting their teams’ mental health. This study shows concerning statistics, the current socio-economic landscape is showing that mental wellbeing is becoming ever more important, and technology can and is playing a pivotal role in scaling supports.” 

Adding, “As part of businesses’ ESG efforts, the investment into the wellbeing of employees, is an investment into the wellbeing of businesses. As the WHO reports, depression and anxiety costs $1 trillion a year globally in lost productivity. So, companies have a clear incentive to address mental health issues. At Amwell, we work with organisations across all sectors to develop mental wellbeing solutions to prioritise employee wellbeing and address mental health solutions in the workplace.” 

A key finding of the SilverCloud study is that implementing a digital mental health and wellbeing solution in the workplace can benefit a company’s ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) efforts in several ways. It can enhance the company’s social impact by demonstrating a commitment to the health and happiness of its workforce, ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, reduce employee absenteeism and turnover, and increase productivity and profitability. Overall, such a solution can help a company demonstrate its commitment to creating a sustainable and socially responsible workplace, contributing to its long-term success.

SilverCloud by Amwell also recently undertook a nationwide street-art project to raise awareness of digital mental health services in Ireland and destigmatise mental health as a topic. This awareness campaign aimed to contribute to the community with positive mental health messages and to help remind us to prioritise our mental wellness every day. These messages and artwork installations are an example to businesses of what can be done to help uplift, inspire and guide employees to check-in on their wellbeing.

Full whitepaper to download

See more stories here.