How AI is being used to help tackle mental health issues

As businesses put more focus on employee wellbeing, they're looking at the ways AI and machine learning can help identify and treat mental health issues in the workplace.

Mental health issues greatly affect people in the UK. A government report entitled Thriving at Work highlighted that 15 per cent of workers have some symptoms of existing mental health conditions, which according to ONS labour figures means that just over 4.9m workers will experience a mental health issue.

Good health = good business

Thankfully businesses are following the general trend towards being more open about mental health, and in recent years have begun to put a stronger focus on employee wellbeing. This has included introducing simple workplace benefits like discounted gym membership or free fruit in the canteen through to more profound changes, such as introducing greater flexible working options to improve employees' work-life balance and even providing counselling services for staff dealing with mental health issues.

Although this is the right thing to do, these actions are not entirely altruistic, as business leaders understand that when the workforce is unwell, the bottom line suffers.

"The government report found that employers are losing between £33bn and £42bn every year due to poor mental health as employees are less productive or off sick. A people-first culture, where businesses champion a culture of openness and safety is ultimately just good business," says John Krichefski, ceo of MediaCom UK. 

A variety of technology initiatives are being used to improve mental health and one area of research revolves around the use of AI and machine learning (ML) to identify and treat individuals dealing with mental health problems.

"By using data, AI and ML we can help to quantify mental wellbeing, decode its effects and provide individuals with practical, clinically-proven methods for self-improvement," points out Dr David Plans, CEO and co-founder of healthcare start-up BioBeats.

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