Mental health organisation, TalkOut is expanding its support for the UK’s business community through the addition of immersive virtual reality (VR) software and the launch of a wellbeing app. 

The expansion plans have been brought forward in order to meet the needs and working conditions arising from the Coronavirus outbreak. 

The VR offer will enable employees to enter simulated environments via a headset and monitor and manage their responses to workplace circumstances that have the potential to impact their mental health. Meanwhile, the app will promote connection among employees and will enable businesses to directly support individuals’ emotional wellbeing as well as offering counselling via a specialist chat function. 

TalkOut’s new digital provision complements the company’s existing mental health training and consultancy programme but also enables it to support businesses and their employees remotely, which will help to overcome any barriers and silos caused by ongoing lockdown restrictions. 

The company was co-founded in 2019 by former HR director, mental health first aid instructor and Childline volunteer, Jill Mead, to provide a strong voice for mental health in the workplace. The business has proved hugely successful, growing quickly to a team of six experts qualified in clinical psychology, psychological therapy and counselling. A MenTalk2 division was also launched earlier this year with a focus on supporting industries that are predominantly male dominated in order to support more men in the workplace.

The company’s expansion will now see Jill rise to the position of CEO for the newly-created TalkOut Group, a team of 12 with plans to grow further in the coming months to meet demand, comprising TalkOut, the consultancy business, TalkOut Tech and TalkOut VR. 

Jill Mead, CEO, TalkOut Group, said: “It has never been more important that we find new, innovative ways to support people’s mental health needs in the workplace and having a digital offer to work alongside our successful training and consultancy programme will help us to reach more organisations and more people quickly. We have a talented team of digital connection experts who understand how technology can support emotional wellbeing and the TalkOut app will not only give people a voice but enable people to feel connected and supported in a digital space.

“Many employers were ill-equipped to address the mental health needs of their staff prior to the Coronavirus pandemic and unfortunately the situation is going to be worse now. Understandably, businesses have a great deal on their plate as they try to recover from this crisis but if they don’t seriously consider the mental health requirements of their people, they will quite simply have another crisis on their hands.

“Workers have been furloughed, many have had to juggle increased workloads alongside home schooling, others are dealing with financial worries and some may have even lost loved ones. These are all factors that can have a huge impact upon our emotional and psychological wellbeing.

“I’m immensely proud to be launching this digital provision which will enable us to ensure mental health is placed on the radar of responsible employers across the UK and will better equip them to support their staff even if they continue to be isolated from them.” 

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