App offers support for coping with trauma at work

A company that provides onsite counseling wants to make it easier for employees to get help after disruptive events

The role of data science and technology in mental health treatment Valera Health uses technology to triage patients to determine which level of care is necessary for patients requiring behavioral and mental health treatment.

A company that specializes in helping employees cope with trauma at work has just released a new app that can provide on-demand support. R3 Continuum's  R3SILIENCY app is designed to help companies deal with workplace violence, natural disasters and other disruptive events. 

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A new app uses a chatbot to help people deal with disruptive events at work.

Image: R3c

The app has content and tools for senior leadership, management and employees. This includes mental health support and tools for leadership to communicate with their organization. 

"Robin" is a virtual assistant who can "talk" with employees about their reactions to a traumatic event. If an individual needs help from a human, Robin will transfer the person via phone or through the app to the R3c clinical consult center.

The World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. There is still a significant stigma around seeking care for mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. According to 2014 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 2.5 million of the 21.2 million individuals dealing with mental illness sought out treatment. Providing support via an app could increase the chances that people will actually take advantage of this support. 

Text messaging about health problems actually works to help people change their behaviors. And it's obviously much easier to download an app than go to HR to get help. As long as the data management policies for the R3SILIENCY app protect an employee's privacy, this kind of mental health support could get more to actually seek out support. There is a reporting feature in the app for a company's senior leadership. The report compiles information from the onsite services provided by R3c including incident types, utilization of services, and billable hours. R3c said that the information provided in the reporting is cumulative and does not show individual employee names or information. 

This kind of app--specific to a time and a place--is similar to event or conference apps, although finding your favorite band on the schedule of a music festival is about as far as you can get from dealing with trauma after an act of violence at work.

Trauma is the long-term effect on a person's health when he or she experiences an event that is dangerous or life-threatening. This can be bad for a person's mental, physical, social, and emotional health.

According to a database of mass killings maintained collectively by The Associated Press, USA TODAY and Northeastern University, there have been 11 mass workplace killings in the US since 2006.  The National Center for PTSD estimates that 28%of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder and about a third develop acute stress disorder. Other work-centric events also can be traumatic, including workplace accidents, stress due to downsizing, lay-offs, company closings or forces outside of work and random acts of violence or terrorism in the surrounding community.

R3 has worked with individuals and organizations during and after September 11, the Las Vegas shooting, hurricanes Katrina, Andrew, Harvey, Maria, Irma, Sandy and Florence, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting. The company also works with clients during other disruptions such as layoffs, riots, death of an employee, and abuse of power by corporate leaders. 

SEE: How to manage job stress: An IT leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends that business continuity planning, communication strategies, and personnel issues should be among the top priorities for organizations after a disruptive event. SHRM suggests that companies  have a responsibility to employees who have suffered severe emotional trauma due to a workplace event. Employee assistance programs which are confidential and provide counseling, assessments, and referrals for workers are an important part of a recovery strategy:

"The trauma inflicted on those who survive an active shooter incident can be enormous, and experts say that businesses ought to prepare in advance to provide mental health assistance for affected employees. This will help businesses recover more quickly by retaining experienced workers, and provide employees with the emotional help they need."
 
R3C launched in April 2016 when three sister companies merged: Behavioral Medical Intervention, Crisis Management International, and Crisis Care Network. 

The company responds to more than 18,000 disruptive events in the workplace every year, with an average of 1,500 per month. R3c works with human resource professionals and employees directly with onsite and phone support, behavioral health assessments and case coordination.

Also see

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The R3SILIENCY app offers support for employees, HR managers and senior leadership to cope with traumatic events at work.

Image: R3c