South Africa is suffering from a silent pandemic, a mental health crisis that seems to get worse every year. A 2017 study found that South Africa’s mental health crisis is costing the country around R232 billion a year due to lost productivity from employee absenteeism caused by stress, anxiety and depression. The equation is simple: if employees aren’t thriving, neither will the company.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health issues are predicted to be the leading cause of disability globally by 2030. The WHO also estimates that in lower to middle income countries, as little as 3% of people who currently need mental health care receive it.
Stigma, cost and a lack of trust and understanding are among the root causes limiting access to mental health care and support. For millions suffering, it is difficult to know where or how to get help. This has created a reactive system focused on severe conditions rather than early intervention and prevention.
Workplace stress and anxiety is not being managed correctly and corporates need to play a more meaningful and impactful role to help employees ease their mental health burdens by offering programmes that see results. This requires adopting solutions that don’t only manage outcomes and that empower businesses to make data driven decisions on interventions that will help their most valuable assets, their staff. It won’t take long to realise that this is not only the right thing to do, but it’s good for business too.
Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are used by organisations to provide help for employees whose personal and professional problems interfere with their work performance. However, many programmes that exist today have become a tick box exercise which serve as little more than putting a plaster on a deep wound.
While EAPs were created to benefit employees, the hard truth is that they are underutilised. On average, the usage rate of traditional EAPs is just 7%. This is mainly due to perceived confidentiality and trust concerns, reactive support, misaligned incentives, and high friction access.
Given the socio-political and economic climate, we are living in extremely challenging times in the workplace. This has a huge impact on one’s mental health and directly affects the successful operation of a business. Corporates cannot continue to attempt to solve the deepening problems with the same tick box solutions from more than ten years ago. This is where Panda comes in.
Panda has created a solution to help tackle the mental health crisis in the workplace through a data-driven programme that offers proactive mental health care. Panda aims to democratise access to mental health services by providing anyone and everyone with access to the right care at the right time. This is the same for those needing support in a workplace environment.
In the workplace, Panda’s solution lies in disrupting traditional EAPs by adapting them to become more robust and focused on proactive and on-demand support in response to the challenges we face today.
The Panda app offers a range of mental health resources, including anonymous assessments that users can complete to better understand the level of mental health support they need. Panda then provides personalised recommendations on how to begin and manage, one’s mental health journey and tracks the users’ progress over time.
For example, if a user is suffering from anxiety and work-place stress, they will be directed to the Panda Forest, where we have audio-only interactive sessions running for 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, covering a variety of topics. In this core functionality of the app, users can anonymously engage in a support group environment.
With Panda, businesses are able to access actionable insights into their employees’ overall mental health to assist them in dealing with any challenges head on. We also provide employers with aggregated stats and recommendations to improve their employee wellness, culture and productivity, which of course in turn benefits business operations. Organisations can set their own budgets and our team will optimise this spend so that employers can provide their employees with access to the right care and support. Panda averages 45% monthly usage – a significant increase in utilisation when compared to traditional EAPs.
For more information about Panda’s offering, click here to book a meeting with our team and start taking action to enhance your business.
Mandy Muchnick CA(SA), Chief Revenue Officer at Panda