The past decade has seen us understand flight as a society, with an awareness of the scale of the impact of mental health issues. In recent years, the focus has shifted somewhat from prevention to prevention, in parallel with the health sector as a whole, in an effort to ensure the sustainability of care services.

The economic impact of the “mental health epidemic” is a major driver for governments and businesses moving towards more preventive welfare initiatives. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that mental health problems in the workplace cost the global economy $ 1 trillion a year due to lost productivity.

Stress and anxiety greatly contribute to these statistics. Stress is defined as the body’s response to a threat or pressure. Anxiety, often associated with stress, is defined as feelings of anxiety, such as anxiety or fear, which can be mild or severe է is a major symptom of a number of mental disorders.

In the UK, for example, 57% of bad workdays in 2018 were due to stress or anxiety. There is a similar story in the United States, where it is estimated that more than half of all workdays lost each year due to absence are stressful. -related, the annual expenses of 2013 alone are equal to more than 84 billion dollars.

Stress և anxiety can have a significant impact on an individual’s physical health, affecting their job performance և productivity և causing further absences. This egg of poor mental health can affect physical health directly through the activity of the autonomic nervous system or indirectly through unhealthy behavior (e.g.

Therefore, in order to break this chain and save long-term costs, employers are increasingly focusing on developing effective health plans, which means any promotional activities or organizational policies that promote healthy workplace behaviors and improve health. results: Nowadays, corporate health plans include healthy eating education, financial counseling, weight loss, access to fitness programs, more direct health services such as on-site medical examinations, stress management, smoking cessation programs, and counseling services (as an employee). support programs).

And that, of course, saves money for a long time. It is best known that Johnson & Johnson executives estimate that health plans have saved the company $ 250 million over health care over the past decade. With a yield of $ 2.71 for every dollar spent between 2002 and 2008. It is no surprise, then, that the workplace healthcare industry was estimated at $ 48 billion in 2020.

The latest innovations in space include the integration of wearable or smartphone technologies that employees use to monitor and collect physical health data. These technologies give employees real insights into physiological health in order to further promote, increase, and maintain their involvement in programs. They also give employers an idea of ​​the overall physical health of their workforce.

A golden opportunity to transform our relationship with mental health

However, with this latest integration of digital health technologies comes the hitherto unrecognized opportunity to change our understanding of mental health և our well-being և treatment.

Throughout history, one of the primary obstacles to providing quality mental health care has been the difficulty of defining objective, objective methods of diagnosing, evaluating, and monitoring the effects of psychological conditions. As the University of Washington so eloquently explained in November last year, if patients show signs of a heart attack, there are biological tests that can be done to look for diagnostic biomarkers that determine if they are really having a heart attack. However, in the case of mental health disorders, the window through which we reach the mind is still through psychological inquiries, not biological parameters.

Mental health professionals check, diagnose, and monitor patients’ symptoms and outcomes through self-reported methods that are prone to excessive subjectivity and, consequently, unreliability, such as diagnostic interviews. The patient’s self-reported symptoms are correlated with ICD or DSM diagnostic manuals, but the challenges are high heterogeneity of mental illness, low intermediate reliability (ie, poor agreement between physicians’ diagnoses), and high accompaniment.

Therefore, there is a need to extend the symptom-based biology of mental health only if we are to combat this unreliability, establish more evidence-based diagnostic and monitoring methods, similar to our approach to physical illness.

So how do we do that?

For example, the National Institute of Mental Health took the first steps through RDoC (Research Area Standards). Advances in MRI technology have made it possible to study brain activity under certain depressive conditions.

But the most exciting development is the spread of health-monitoring technologies on portable smartphones. As the ability to collect vast amounts of physiological health data becomes more and more widespread, the ability to use machine learning (ML) to gain new insights into each individual’s physiology.

This allows for the identification and validation of personalized digital biographies of mental health conditions. described as indicators of mental state that can be obtained by the patient through the use of digital technology. These digital biomarkers can include physiology (such as heart rate), cognition (such as eye movement on screens), behavioral (such as GPS), and social (such as call frequency). However, here physiology refers to us.

Corporate health programs provide the perfect environment to wear portable devices և use of smartphone sensors to detect digital biomarkers that link physical health to mental well-being, with enormous potential benefits for all parties involved. employers և employees.

For example, by validating elements such as digital biometrics (relationships for which there is already empirical evidence) for excessive stress or anxiety disorders (digital biometrics), employers can not only identify the risks of stress and anxiety in the workplace; to protect. prosperity, but also establish an evidence-based approach to assessing the effectiveness of workplace health initiatives. This is because quantitative cardiopulmonary data can serve as a reliable measure of employee stress կամ (or) mental well-being.

Employees, on the other hand, can form an idea of ​​the direct links between their emotions and their physical health. Therefore, their greater involvement in health programs will increase their effectiveness in preventing their deteriorating mental health. That’s why you need to keep in mind the availability and ease of use when choosing healthcare technologies.

Finally, the creation of digital biological cues that link physiological parameters to mental health և well-being not only has the potential to provide more reliable tools for diagnosing and evaluating patient outcomes, but will also improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of mental disorders, allowing for more effective preventive measures.

Photo by Creativeye99, Getty Images

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