Never in our wildest dreams (or nightmares) could we have prepared ourselves for the last year, mentally, financially or emotionally.  The huge shift in our working and personal lives, saw us deal with an array of challenges, ranging from home working, home schooling and a fear of the unknown. Adding the real worry of our physical health into the mix, it’s no wonder many of us were left reeling at the changes. So we ask the question “Could Artificial Intelligence fill the gap in workplace mental health support?’

Mental health has become one of the biggest challenges for employees and employers to manage with the continuously evolving work dynamic. Organisations are realising that they must address all aspects of employee health, including stress and anxiety, in order to avoid a decline in productivity and prevent work burnout. As a positive perspective though, the pandemic has amplified conversations around mental health that weren’t necessarily in the spotlight before.

What exactly is Artificial Intelligence?

AI can be described as an area of computer science that simulates human intelligence in machines. It’s about smart algorithms making decisions based on the available data. Technologies like digital assistants and chatbots provide a judgement-free zone for employees to seek advice and share their stresses-and they are immediately available to answer health-related questions.

Can Artificial Intelligence and other technology help meet the mental health challenges we are facing?

Oracle partnered with research firm Workplace Intelligence to survey more than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives across 11 countries to try and shed light on this.  82% of people believe robots can support their mental health better than humans and 68% would prefer to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the most stressful work year in people’s lives, negatively affecting the mental health of 78% of the global workforce. Whilst this comes as no surprise, how companies can now counter affect this issue, is of upmost importance.  We embraced new technology such as Zoom and adapted to other technological ways to communicate and continue, so the natural progression and acceptance of Artificial Intelligence to support mental health is a positive thing for employees and employers alike.

Proven statistics

While proactive approaches, such as creating flexible work hours for employees and establishing employee assistance programs, help to mitigate workplace stress, AI-driven systems may also play a pivotal role in lowering employees’ stress levels. Three-quarters of the employees surveyed said that AI improved their mental health at work, with over three in 10 (31 per cent) stated that AI reduces stress levels by giving employees the information they need to do their job more effectively.

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said AI was useful in automating tasks and decreasing workloads which would ultimately prevent burnout and  over a quarter (27 per cent) stated that AI helped employees to prioritise tasks. Over half (51 per cent) responded that AI allowed them to shorten their work weeks and allows them to take longer holidays.

Employees expect their companies to do more to support their mental health and AI can help improve mental health and wellbeing, now and in the future.

For further information on mental health and AI, please take a look at our associated website Savoir which leads the way in Psychological Risk Management: https://www.savoir-uk.co.uk