The number of searches for mental health related terms has increased dramatically over the past four years, according to new analysis from RedArc.
The assistance service says this shows there is an urgent need for better information and support, and employers have a key role to play in filling this gap.
Their figures show that the number of monthly online searches in the UK for the term ‘mental health’ has doubled over this period, from 27,800 in 2015 to 69,200 in 2019.
RedArc says there has also been a 37 per cent increase in the number of online search for broader phrases that Google understands as being related to mental health.
Of these 800-plus broader terms, the three with the highest number of monthly searches over this period are ‘anxiety’, ‘depression’ and ‘bipolar’.
RedArc says this trend mirrors data released by Google earlier this year, which showed that around 7 per cent of daily searches worldwide were health related.
RedArc managing director Christine Husbands says: “Of course not every single mental health-related search is someone needing help or advice but the statistical evidence, as well as our own experience, certainly points towards an increase in demand.”
The RedArc days also shows that peaks of activity for these search terms during Mental Health Awareness Week (in May) and Mental Health Day (in October):
Husbands adds: “Individuals need to ensure they are seeking advice from a reputable source as there is a lot of content out there of a dubious nature. We’re also extremely pleased to see Google taking steps towards supporting mental health – particularly for those most vulnerable.”
RedArc adds that employers have a vital role to play in supporting staff and helping to identify potential problems at an early stage.
It says that services provided via group risk schemes, PMI schemes and employee assistance programmes can offer more targeted support than more general online searches.
RedArc says employers can provide mental health support in a number of ways such as via apps, online factsheets, self-help guides through to clinical assessments, counselling and therapy.
Husbands adds: “We’re never going to stop people using search engines to research potential mental health conditions, but we do need to help people make a judgement about which sources to trust.
“Employers should be looking to fill this space either directly or via a third party to ensure that staff only receive the highest quality of information and that it is just as easy to source as using a search engine and is backed up with real interventions should a member of staff need it.”