Health insurance giants release apps to combat stress

combating stress

Two health insurers have recently launched tools to help people identify and treat stress.

More workers are stressed, taking fewer holidays and working longer hours since the economic downturn, according to a recent study by Nuffield Health. Employees reported feeling more stressed, anxious and unable to cope under pressure.

The poll of 1,500 employees found 52% have felt more stressed since the crisis, 41% reported more pressure at work and nearly a quarter have been working longer hours. A study, of civil servants, from the University of Ulster found the number of workers taking time off due to stress jumps up 25% during times of economic crisis.

Perhaps in response to these statistics, health insurance giants PruHealth and Aviva have recently launched applications to help members deal with mental health problems.

PruHealth’s new addition to its Vitality health scheme offers support for members on mental health issues. Users can access online assessments of their mental and emotional health. Free support is provided through the “Living Life” online life skills course.

The course uses a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach to help individuals discover how to deal with problems and boost motivation. The course has been developed by Dr Chris Williams, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Williams explained to Health Insurance Magazine, “We know that the majority of people with low mood and stress don’t seek help from health practitioners. The Living Life online wellbeing resources allow people to dip into and address topics they want to work on, such as how to boost motivation and fix problems, or tackle irritability, losing your temper and destructive negative thinking.”

While PruHealth’s concept is only open to its members, Aviva has introduced a new application for free download on iPhones and Androids, available to everyone. The app, “My Stress Kit”, asks users to take a short questionnaire and input the events that cause them to feel under pressure. It aims to help individuals identify their stress levels and provides them with a stress diary timeline to help identify stress triggers. This is combined with practical advice and tips from experts.

Both tools have been developed with the help of medical experts and aim to make people aware of stress in their daily lives, hopefully giving them the opportunity of combating it. With expatriate workers shown to be at greater risk of mental health problems than domestic workers, the expat market could be a big target for these types of apps.