WebMD launches weekly mental health podcast to help workers affected by COVID-19

Part of a wellness platform for companies, the seminars will tackle a range of issues, plus give tips on how to support employees working from home.

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Online healthcare portal WebMD announced it is adding a series of weekly mental health podcasts focusing on COVID-19 and the psychological toll it's taking on workers in the healthcare industry and elsewhere. The podcasts will cover topics such as "techniques for coping, creating balance, dealing with anxiety, insomnia, domestic violence, change in the workplace, caring for the caregiver, company downsizing and more," WebMD said in a statement.

COVID-19, and the stress and isolation that comes with it, have taken an obvious toll on medical professionals; those not in the medical industry have been suffering as well, with 45% of US workers saying the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health, according to WebMD.

The Kaiser Family Foundation's recent healthcare survey sheds more light on the potential mental health outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 19% saying the pandemic has had a major impact on mental health. 

Kaiser's survey also includes the warning signs of further psychological disruption to come: 40% say they've lost a job or have had hours reduced, 75% say the worst of the pandemic is yet to come, and 57% say they're worried about putting themselves and others at risk because they can't afford to stay home.

All of that data spells problems for mental health around the US and the world, and WebMD is hoping its new podcast can provide some relief for those who aren't sure where to turn.

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"For many people, fear of stigma can affect how they relate to others, and employees often try to hide what they are going through. By integrating custom podcasts with WebMD ONE, employees can access support privately. This engagement can mitigate fears of being 'found out' and can potentially increase employee participation in Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)," said WebMD's Andrea Herron.

Unfortunately, there's one catch: These mental health podcasts aren't freely available to anyone who accesses WebMD. As mentioned in the paragraph above, the podcasts are part of its WebMD ONE platform, an enterprise-focused wellness platform that companies can subscribe to.

WebMD ONE is part of the WebMD Health Services platform, which is designed to give employees the ability to individually tailor company wellness programs to suit their individual needs. 

As Herron mentioned, mental health care is one of those needs, and many suffer from the stigma surrounding seeking therapy or other forms of treatment.

"No one knows when this public health crisis will abate, but when it finally does, one thing is for sure: we will be forever changed. If there's a silver lining to be had, hopefully that will include increased acceptance and understanding of mental health issues and a greater willingness to prevent them from happening in the future," said WebMD's Dr. Loren Soeiro. 

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