Digital mental health can help with workplace stress

Digital mental health can be more accessible and flexible than more traditional psychological treatments, says Stephany Carolan of WorkGuru

19th September, 2017
Stephany Carolan is speaking at The 2nd National Mental Health Summit

What's your name?

Stephany Carolan

What position do you hold?

I am currenly juggling three different roles: I am the CEO and founder of a digital mental health intervention called WorkGuru; I work as a management consultant working with third sector and public sector organisations; and I am a researcher in digital mental health at the University of Sussex.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Every day is different for me. If I am not working at WorkGuru helping people to become more resilient at work then I am doing my consultancy work or my research. I recently completed a report for a mental health trust where I worked together with families who had been bereaved to help the trust improve the way that it engages with them following a death. For my research, I am due to complete my PhD next year so I am busy writing up my thesis. WorkGuru came from my personal and professional experience of managing workplace stress, and I am very proud of the difference it has made to people.

What is your professional background?

I started as a teacher, but then quite quickly began working in mental health services. My Masters is in work psychology and I use those skills and my research skills to help organisations change the way that they work with people who experience mental health problems.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I love yoga and mountain biking. Yoga lets me revisit the childhood pleasure of standing on my head, and mountain biking gives me of the joy of descending off-road tracks at speed.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I went through a skydiving phase. I decided that the only way to embrace life was to repeatedly throw myself out of an airplane at 12,000 feet! I got to do somersaults on the way down, but I also landed in a field of sheep more than once!

You are speaking at the 2017 Mental Health Summit. What are you speaking about?

I am going to be speaking about digital mental health that is delivered in the workplace. One in three of us are affected by workplace stress, but take-up of psychological interventions amongst workers is low. One way to address this is using digital mental health. There are lots of advantages to digital mental health. It can be more accessible and flexible than more traditional psychological treatments, but these advantages can have their disadvantages when they are delivered in the workplace. I am going to be exploring this in my presentation and taking about the role digital mental health has in keeping us well.

What major challenges do you see for mental health services?

I love the fact that we talk more about mental health now and more about the prevention of mental illness and I think digital mental health will have a major role in that. But I worry about the support that we are giving to people who are currently experiencing serious mental health problems. I think the challenge to mental health services is being able to invest in wellbeing at the same time as ensuring that our mental health services really do help people who experience serious mental health problems live the lives that they aspire to.

Where would you like to see the mental health service in 10 years time?

I would like to see us as a society being much more aware of the things that we can be doing to help keep ourselves mentally well, and I would like to see our mental health services supporting people to live the lives they want: Learning, working, being in relationships, having families, enjoying life. It isn’t all about digital health, but digital heath certainly has a very important role.

Stephany Carolan is appearing at The 2nd National Mental Health Summit. The agenda and further details for this important national event, at the AVIVA Stadium on November 9th, is available at Mentalhealthsummit.ie.

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