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Psychological Online Counselling – Efficacy and Benefit for Companies

Are you in a leading position and did you ever think: “What do I care about the (mental) problems of my employees?” This thought could have expensive consequences for companies. In Germany, psychological problems in the job cause about 147 billion euros per year (DGGPN, 2018). Fortunately, there are measures for companies to reduce, or even avoid such effects. A good opportunity is psychological online counselling. We show you actual numbers about the efficacy and the benefit of online treatments.

Benefit of Health Measures at Work

Psychological burden of employees could cause enormous costs. The same effect, but in a positive way, measures of the operational health management could have. Baxter et al (2014) summarized some studies. Those were analysing the average return of investment (ROI) of health care investments at work. Not only psychological problems were focused, but also general health improving and preventing measures. Over all studies there was an average ROI of 2,7. In short: One invested euro could save 2,7 euros.

Two more reviews underline the positive effect of health care measures at work (Pomaki et al. 2012; Wagner et al. 2016). It is shown here that qualitative psychological interventions mean for companies:

  • reduced sick leaves
  • happy employees
  • increased efficacy and
  • reduced costs

It is extremely effective if employees have an easy access to psychological help. Furthermore, it is beneficial, if highly intensive psychological interventions are available at work. Employees, who feel mental burdens do not seek psychological counselling often. That is why companies in this case should focus on health promotion.

Efficiency of Psychological Interventions

According to the iga.Report 2019 it is especially important, related to psychological interventions, that they are organised individual, and that professional counselling is included. Regarding psychological online counselling, it is shown that personal contact plays a key role. Clients stop interventions less often if the counselling is individual and personal. The termination rate is higher, if the intervention is not guided, for example an online course. In the report it is also shown that psychological online counselling could increases the well-being of the workforce. More precisely, the satisfaction at work and the turnover.

In general, depending on the disorder, between 28% – 63% of the people in Germany do not get a treatment. There are many causes for it, but it is clear that online treatments could be an additional alternative to expand the psychological care (Mack et al., 2014).

Benefit of Psychological Online Counselling

International studies had shown that there are high barriers for people, suffering from mental problems, when it comes to seek for help. Reasons for it are for example the fear of being stigmatized, social restrictions, but also a lack of financing options (Salaheddin & Mason, 2016; Lynch, Long, & Moorhead 2018; Clement et al. 2014). Although, mental complaints are common and treatments would avoid a lot of costs, our society does not realize them yet.

But there are a lot of advantages coming from psychological online counselling:

  • time and cost savings
  • immidiate availability
  • low-threshold online access
  • flexibility in time and place
  • anonymity & quick intimacy

Durch die hohe Wirksamkeit von Online Interventionen empfiehlt sich für Unternehmen, ihren Mitarbeitern und Mitarbeiterinnen den Zugang Online interventions are highly efficient. That is the reason, why companies should offer their workforce an easy access to it.

Effectiveness of Psychological Online Counselling

Meanwhile, there are a lot of study results related to psychological online counselling. Those refer especially to cognitive behavioural therapy, and to specific disorders. This includes for example depression, anxiety disorders, sleeping disorders, or substance use.

Barak et al. (2008) provided even more evidence for the effectiveness of psychological online counselling with their meta-analysis of 92 studies. If it comes to improvement of the symptoms, those analysis had shown, that online measures have almost the same efficacy as on-site sessions:

  • 71% of the people felt much better
  • 52% had no more symptoms after it
  • 883% of the clients rated the psychological help as effective

After one year the severity of symptoms was still reduced. Therefore, it is a proven long-term effect through psychological online interventions (Berryhill et al., 2019). Furthermore, a review of 33 studies has shown that video-based psychological online counselling could reduce depression.

Necessity of On-Site Therapy

If individuals could endanger themselves, or others an on-site therapy, or an in-patient stay is advisable in any case. The same applies to, if the well-being gets worse, or, if there are disorders, which cause limitations in daily life. Also, it is not allowed that a diagnosis is made, or treated in a psychological online therapy.

Prevalence of Psychological Illnesses and Measures

Meta-analysis of 68 studies from December 2020 had shown that one out of three adults in the total population suffer from depression, or anxiety states. Risk factors for psychological diseases, depression, or for example anxiety could be:

  • low socio-economic status
  • female sex
  • young age (< 35)
  • rural area
  • higher risk of infection
  • high media consumption

Psychological Online Counselling as Prevention

A meta-analysis of 17 studies (Sander, Rausch und Baumeister, 2016) summarized facts about online measurements as primary prevention for mental problems. The results underlined, that online interventions are effective for avoiding mental illnesses before they manifest themselves. Moreover, subliminal symptoms could be eased. On the one hand, psychological online counselling is low-threshold and flexible. Then again, it could also reduce personal, social, and financial worries.

Positive Effects for Companies Through Psychological Counselling

Another study had also shown the effectiveness of psychological counselling for working people, suffering from dysthymia (Adler et al., 2015). The illness is defined by a chronic depressive disorder with milder symptoms as in an acute depressive episode. People affected had sessions over 50 minutes for 2 times a month – 8 sessions in total. Within the telephone intervention participants had work coaching and interventions of cognitive behavioural therapy. The control group used care offers by themselves.

After four months, the psychological telephone intervention changed a lot for the company:

  • Increased productivity at work for about 43,0%, in comparison to 4,8% in the control group
  • Reduction of sick leaves about 58,3% (0% in the control group)
  • Decrease of the moderate severity of depression symptoms for 44,2% vs. 5,3% in the control group

When, Changes Due to Psychological Counselling Are Noticeable?

An analysis, where cognitive-behavioural online therapy was used to reduce depressive symptoms in people, it was shown that it is highly effective. After 5 weeks of treatment the depressive symptoms were already reduced. The longer the online treatment, the better would the reduction of the symptoms be (Warmerdam et al., 2010).

Clients in average use psychological online counselling at Instahelp for 6 sessions. If they use it once a week it means about 6 weeks. Consequently, this offer is a helpful solution for immediate help with mental complaints, or as short-term help. If you consider how long someone must wait for an available therapy place, it is clear how important this measurement could be. In any case, prevention is better than to risk the manifestation of a mental illness.

Sources:
www.iga-info.de/fileadmin/redakteur/Veroeffentlichungen/iga_Reporte/Dokumente/iga-Report_40_Wirksamkeit_und_Nutzen_Gesundheitsfoerderung_Praevention.pdf
www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/171892/Stigma-und-Stigmatisierung-Hindernisse-fuer-eine-Psychotherapie
Warmerdam, L., van Straten, A., Jongsma, J., Twisk, J., Cuijpers, P. (2010). Online cognitive behavioral therapy and problem-solving therapy for depressive symptoms: Exploring mechanisms of change. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 41,4–70.
Barak, A., Hen, L., Boniel-Nissim, M., Shapira, N. (2008). A Comprehensive Review and a Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Internet-Based Psychotherapeutic Interventions. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 26(2-4), 109-160.

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