Maintaining Emotional Equilibrium in Difficult Times

After the events in Paris and Beirut last week, every one of your screens – from TVs to tablets, phones to laptops – was probably like mine, filled with stories and images of tragedy and human loss. For better or worse, the speed and connectedness of our social world allow us to feel and experience events throughout the globe, via tweets, timelines and newsfeeds, all updating around the clock. As we process and digest the events, we’re asked to try to continue normal daily life in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities.

Tara Haelle wrote a nice piece for Forbes, talking about the effects of disaster news fatigue and pointing to examples from the Oklahoma City bombing, Hurricane Katrina, September 11th, and the Boston Marathon. She also addresses the importance of knowing how to speak to children about these events, and the images they may be witnessing for the very first time in their lives. And Carol Harnett discusses appropriate employee communications in HRE Online.

Much of health care innovation has been focused on physical health, but we’re seeing a number of interesting trends and developments within the emotional health space:

  • A new behavioral health start-up called Lyra Health (launched by former Facebook CFO David Ebersman), focused on helping those with depression, anxiety, or substance abuse issues.
  • Wearables like Spire, which analyze breathing rates to determine levels of tension, calm, or focus.
  • New technology companies like Lantern, Calm, and Cope, all aiming to increase access and digitize therapies for emotional health.
  • Virtual reality therapy to help treat anxiety, phobia, addiction, and PTSD.

And Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has hired the former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Thomas Insel, for its Life Sciences group. We’ll be interested to see where that leads.

We’re hearing more companies speaking out about holistic wellbeing, which includes physical, mental, and financial aspects. As you think about the dynamic world around us, do you think that social attitudes and stigmas towards emotional health are changing?  Are we more receptive to therapy, resiliency, mindfulness, and meditation? Do you see regular practice of these activities within the workplace? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Chris Chan
by Chris Chan

Principal, Innovation LABS, Mercer

Chris is a Principal and Innovation Imagineer with Mercer’s Health Innovation LABS, where he helps build creative solutions that complement employers’ health and welfare benefits programs. He focuses on developing strategies and products through the use of human-centered design, machine learning, consumer data insights and creating customer delight. Chris graduated from the University of California with a degree in neurobiology.

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