Articles/AI tools helping detect worries at work

AI tools helping detect worries at work

Workplace stress is taking a toll on our mental health. We’re spending more time connecting with colleagues and clients over screens - and the inability to switch off, when work and home are the same place, is contributing to anxiety, depression and chronic loneliness.

Your staff or co-workers might need extra support - but how can you tell? Identifying when someone is struggling is not easy, especially when they’re working remotely. 

Workplaces don’t have to rely on human observation anymore. 

AI-based mental health tools can monitor for subtle cues and changes in emotions and behaviour and analyse the data instantly to detect anxiety and stress earlier than a human can. 

Early detection means little problems can be addressed before they become bigger ones. 

A helping hand for workplace stress

New generation conversational AI-based mental health apps swap the psychologist’s couch for a smartphone screen and friendly chatbots that can detect and help manage stress and build wellbeing skills. A worker can ask a Conversational AI (CAI) bot for tips on everything from managing anxiety before a meeting to deep breathing techniques to reduce stress. 

The free Woebot onversational AI bot asks a user about their mood and thoughts in short, daily conversations and suggests ways to build skills to reduce stress using cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) techniques. A 2021 study of more than 36,000 users found Woebot could establish a therapeutic bond with users – something long thought to only be possible through human-to-human interactions.

BioBeats app creates a daily wellbeing score based on answers to in-app questions that track mood and data collected about sleep patterns, activity, and heart rate and rhythm from a wearable device. Coaching sessions helps users learn about their mood triggers. Scores and progress can be tracked over time to see what works. Users can spot their most stressful days or weeks and take preventative action, or map their most or least stressful locations using GPS during deep breathing and body stress checks. 

Happify’s science-based, bite-sized quizzes, games and activities help users cope better with stress, overcome negative thoughts, build self confidence and resilience and track their progress towards achieving goals.

Elomia users can talk through problems, ask questions and get recommendations for therapeutic exercises in confidential conversations with their AI-powered mental health companion, who remembers past sessions when they return. 

Ginger provides guided self-care through a smartphone, with support to learn new skills and achieve personal or professional goals from coaches who are available to chat anytime for in-the-moment emotional support.

Digital detection for speedy support

How does the AI know how an employee’s doing? By monitoring a worker’s words, voice patterns and tone of voice, it picks up rising levels of agitation and stress and warning signs about a change in mental health status – not just through what they say, but how they say it. 

Visual and vital signs monitoring can detect changes in facial expressions, breathing patterns, heart rate, typing speed, errors and output. Diagnostic tools like retina scans can pick up when workers look tired and suggest they take a break. 

Prevention is better than cure

Rather than reacting after a worker has an anxiety or panic attack, AI-based monitoring can help prevent one from occurring in the first place. By using machine learning to identify triggers and pick up signs of increasing stress, the AI can intervene and suggest changes to help lower anxiety and stress or alert an appropriate person about the need for support.

UK-based workplace wellbeing provider Care uses Woebot in its program delivery for public and private sector organisations. If Woebot detects language that suggests a user is in crisis or at risk, it checks with the user and directs them to accredited counsellors.

AI that has been trained about job roles can recommend the best order to complete work tasks in to assist wellbeing. After completing a difficult or intense project, it might suggest an easier task to bring stress levels down.

Always on support 

AI-based mental healthcare tools in the workplace can’t diagnose or treat a condition, but they are playing an increasingly important role in detecting and providing support to those dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.

Importantly in our always-on world, AI-enabled tools don’t work only business hours. They’re available to provide support whenever it’s needed 24/7/365.