Does Tech Addiction Play A Role In Workplace Mental Health Issues?

Does Tech Addiction Play A Role In Workplace Mental Health Issues?

By Beth Leipholtz 10/23/18

Mental health in the workplace is an evolving issue that needs to be addressed.

Image: 
worried man sitting in front of a laptop

While technology is largely helpful in today’s professional world, it can also be somewhat hindering for mental health, according to Mike Serbinis, the founder and CEO of Canada-based employee benefits platform League. 

“If people feel like they always have to be on, it's stressful and hard to relax and get the downtime and rest your brain needs,” Serbinis tells Forbes.

Mental health in the workplace is an evolving issue that needs to be addressed. In fact, mental illness is now the greatest cause of disability in the world, according to the World Health Organization. 

It’s an issue close to home for Serbinis too; 44% of employees in his country of Canada have faced a mental health issue in their place of work. 

“We see it among our data [at League] too,” Serbinis tells Forbes. “Between one-third to one-half of all employees using us are checking in or accessing a service that has to do with helping them manage stress, anxiety, depression, and so on.”

In the United States, similar statistics demonstrate that one in five U.S. adults are living with mental health issues of some sort, though the number is likely higher due to lack of reporting. 

According to Serbinis, it’s important to distinguish between the types of mental health issues. He says two of the biggest are depression and anxiety. “There's a range of different conditions and illnesses,” Serbinis tells Forbes. “People speaking about mental health as one sort of general category almost doesn't do it justice.”

When it comes to struggling with mental health in the workplace, Serbinis says “tech addiction” likely plays a large role.

“What's happening is that people are getting conditioned to see those signals or numbers and feel like they have to go back and check constantly,” Serbinis says. “And that triggers this fight or flight response. Which jacks up adrenaline, which jacks blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular issues, which leads to anxiety... it's a whole cascade of events that really emanates from this constant interruption.”

One solution is to expand employee benefits to cover mental health, Serbinis says. 

Forbes says that in addition to covering mental health services, some companies are also taking time for mental health “office hours,” during which a therapist may visit a workplace. Or, as an alternative, companies are covering subscriptions for online tools such as Talkspace

Another recommendation is to not encourage employees to constantly check work-related notifications during non-working hours. “We suggest that people to turn off their notifications at home, and dedicate time for messaging and emails at work that’s separate from your other tasks,” Serbinis tells Forbes.

When it comes down to it, Serbinis says, workplaces need to change their approach to mental health. 

“The current way of doing things is not sustainable,” he said. “Employers need to see employee health and wellness as a core part of their strategy to build a top company.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Disqus comments
DSC_0079.jpg

Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

Disqus comments