The Conference Board has published a new whitepaper, promoting the use of immersive, virtual reality-based therapies and experiences for employees. In the report, entitled Is AI the Answer to Employee Mental Health and Well-Being Challenges? they say employee mental health is declining – this according to a Conference Board survey of 1,100 office workers. They also say leaders can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to reverse this trend.

“The urgency around addressing the mental health crisis that organizations face continues to grow as the situation worsens,” they write. “Traditional approaches to addressing employee mental health challenges (stress, anxiety, burnout) have often failed to deliver the intended improvements, which can have significant cost and productivity impacts.

To bolster their argument for the use of virtual reality-based therapies, they add that 88 per cent of respondents say their organizations offer programs to support emotional well-being but only 29 per cent found them helpful. “At companies still offering well-being programs, fewer than 25 per cent of C-suite executives find them helpful,” they state. They add that for every employee experiencing mental distress, employers incur $15,000 per year in lost productivity, health care costs and turnover.

The two limited pilot studies referenced, one conducted by the Bank of America and another conducted by the Mayo Clinic, showed that virtual reality therapeutic sessions succeeded in relieving symptoms for most participants.

“Using personalized, AI-driven, immersive therapies can help leaders address the mental health crisis at their organizations,” the whitepaper states. “While the public has access to only earlier versions of generative AI, it is clear that future released versions will be faster, smarter, more expansive and increasingly accurate and effective,” they state. “The use cases for AI, writ large, to address mental health and well-being in the workplace are only beginning to emerge.”