Virtual Therapy: From Stress to Strength
How ASG co-owner Onna Koeneman addresses mental health in the workplace
Just last year the CDC estimated 41.5% of adults in the United States had symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 56% of employees say stress and anxiety have negative impacts on their workplace performance.
There are new and innovative ways of dealing with anxiety. During the pandemic, the option of virtual therapy grew and transformed treatment for patients. ASG’s Onna Koeneman, Quality Risk Manager, a former masters-prepared clinical nurse specialist in clinical informatics, believes that virtual therapy is a useful option for employees. She recently shared her take on managing anxiety and how to address it in the workplace.
Does virtual therapy work?
As long as people have been trained properly, and they have trust with the patient, I imagine virtual therapy will be very successful. A medical professional can see what’s really occurring in the patient’s life at home while the patient is already in their safe environment. People are comfortable at home. Therapists might be able to improve more trust because they’re meeting the person where they are, instead of pulling them out of the house, which makes them anxious. The first criteria for virtual therapy to function, though, is that a patient must be comfortable with the device to use it.
Would you recommend this type of therapy to your employees?
Yes, if someone’s more at ease to do something online versus going to the office then that’s a great option and it works very well. You want people who are struggling to be open and comfortable. Anxiety is a big deal in today’s society. I can’t tell if we’re just identifying it or if it’s on the rise, but some people will share their expressions more now than they ever have before as a culture. Either way we have to address it and help people.
Why is addressing mental health so important as a leader?
Anxiety affects a lot of us. My family is affected by it. Everybody has anxiety in some shape or form. It’s not always a question of whether you’re having an anxious moment, but a matter of when and how you deal with it. That’s part of being human, right? I think it grants a perspective that can help drive improvements. It’s an identifier to you. Look at what it is telling you, and question what you need to do to get re-centered.
Part of our value system and company culture at ASG is that we want to care for everybody, but it’s difficult. We’re not around each other 24/7, so it’s really easy to not be in touch with people. We have to work hard at it because we’re all so busy. In the end, we want our team members to be the best they can be. To be your best, health plays a significant role- both physical and mental health.
How do you address mental health in the workplace?
I was just reading an article on global happiness. It’s gone down in the last 10 years. People in the United States are not happy anymore. If people aren’t happy, they get sick faster. When they’re unhappy, they overeat, and they don’t watch their diet. They don’t exercise. They drink more when they’re unhappy. Some people get anxious more, some people smoke more.
Around two years ago we began a weekly mind, body and spirit check to keep everybody from getting dragged down. We ask about anxiety in our culture survey every year and we track it. When we recognize someone with additional needs, we get them in one-on-ones or to their physicians as fast as possible. I think we all agree that it’s more than just medication; it’s also behavior matters, and so we try to elevate moods. We feel like we have more work to do to make sure everybody’s safe, secure and happy. We do the best we can.
At ASG we really do care about our team members. Learn more about our culture.