Trend: Despite concerns, large US employers deploy apps, AI chatbots, other digital tools to boost workplace mental health
Employers Are Offering a New Worker Benefit: Wellness Chatbots (The Wall Street Journal):
More workers feeling anxious, stressed or blue have a new place to go for mental-health help: a digital app.
Chatbots that hold therapist-like conversations and wellness apps that deliver depression and other diagnoses or identify people at risk of self-harm are snowballing across employers’ healthcare benefits.
“The demand for counselors is huge, but the supply of mental-health providers is shrinking,” said J. Marshall Dye, chief executive officer of PayrollPlans, a Dallas-based provider of benefits software used by small and medium-size businesses, which began providing access to a chatbot called Woebot in November.
… About a third of U.S. employers offer a “digital therapeutic” for mental-health support, according to a survey of 457 companies this past summer by professional services company WTW. An additional 15% of the companies were considering adding such an offering in 2024 or 2025 … Yet some researchers say there isn’t sufficient evidence the programs work, and the varied security and safety practices create a risk that private information could be leaked or sold.
2023 survey among large US employers:
American employers are taking action to improve the health and wellness of their employees. That is among the findings of a report that explores what employers are doing to address the mental health challenges that confront too many in America. In the survey, 94% of large employers (500 or more employees) reported that they have strengthened their coverage for mental health care, increased support, or put in place new programs or systems to help in the last three years. About two-thirds (68%) have added or enhanced supports like employee assistance programs, classes, or access to apps to help promote mental health, and 28% have expanded mental health coverage within their existing health plans. In addition, employers are also putting in place workforce training to support those with mental health needs and making changes in the office to promote mental wellness at work.
News in Context:
- Virtual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) accounts for over 30% of NHS mental health treatments — up from 10% in 2017
- AI-powered Woebot raises $90M to scale up digital self-therapy platform
- Digital mental health start-up Koa Health raises €30M to accelerate growth in Europe and the US