The way we feel at the workplace and cope with stress significantly affects our efficiency and ability to perform our tasks. It has been increasingly highlighted in publications and social media discussions that well-being of employees also determines their overall health. Poor mental health at the workplace may lead to a lack of motivation, human errors, burn-outs, and, as a result, to lower quality of life. Many employees may still not know what methods and tools are available in case they notice a decrease in their mental well-being or find it more and more difficult to release the overload of stress.
So what can help you stay mentally healthy at work? OuluHealth is talking to Hanna Karhu, CEO of HaKa Solutions. HaKa Solutions is an Oulu-based health and life science company founded in 2019 that has developed the Toivo method to support mental well-being.
First of all, what is your solution?
We have developed the Toivo method in cooperation with customers and occupational therapists. It includes an evaluation, analysis, and a reporting tool implemented in a mobile application and the Toivo control method, all centered around a workbook. We also provide guidance and stop technique training for the Toivo instructors and the people piloting it, such as occupational therapists and company HR personnel. For companies, we offer an effective tool for promoting and restoring operational and working ability of personnel. Using our method, occupational health risks can be identified and eliminated. This way returning to work, even after a long break, is accelerated because the person monitors and directs their well-being. This process, in turn, prevents fatigue and gives an extra motivation boost.
How does Toivo work in practice?
The analysis and guidance refer to everyday functioning and working ability. The evaluation survey is done with a mobile application and by interviewing the customer to collect the information needed to prepare the Toivo guidance, set goals, and create a service path for the customer. All the guidance is included in the Toivo workbook. Then stress management guidance follows, including home exercises and the stop-pausing technique to support and promote functional ability. At the end of this process, we offer additional guidance. The customer can also use the mobile application to continue self-monitoring.
Who is the Toivo method for?
To be honest, the Toivo method is intended for any person who wants to improve their mental well-being but, so far, it has been piloted in the occupational sector. During the pilot testing, we focused on clients’ pain awareness skills, everyday performance management, and workability. Toivo has also been piloted with the disabled, pain patients, and people suffering from work burnout. This method is suitable especially for education and health care providers, their customers as well as companies that can use our solution to promote and evaluate occupational well-being.
Toivo means hope in Finnish. Why did you choose this name?
In fact, the name of the method comes from the Finnish words ‘TOImintakyVyn Ohjaus’, which refers to the management of performance, for example, at the workplace. Indeed, the letters create an acronym that means ‘hope’. The name highlights the fact that a counselor’s task is to awaken hope in the client and help them maintain a high level of hope in their daily performance until they can do that independently. The core message we want to send is that any ability to function can be affected. The value promise of the Toivo method: There is always hope!
You have recently successfully passed the evaluation process in the OuluHealth Labs. Can you tell us about the testing and its results?
We tested the Toivo method in the OuluHealth Labs in the Kipinä activity centre of Oulu’s employment services from 25 July to 22 December 2022. With the help of Ouluhealth Labs, we were able to test the functionality of the Toivo method in the most suitable places; with 20-50-year-old people with disabilities and long-term absences from work. Many of them suffered from work burnout, and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, panic symptoms, pain, musculoskeletal, locomotor problems, and other diseases. The method was also tested by occupational therapists. We wanted to find out about the usability of our solution in the assessment and guidance of functionality and workability, as well as the functionality of the Toivo mobile application.
The Kipinä activity centre’s occupational therapist, Marita Lämsä, was part of this pilot testing. According to her, Toivo is a beneficial method. She told us that our solution saves time spent identifying her customers’ core problems and workability challenges. The Toivo method can also be used by Kipinä during an intake interview to clarify the customer’s needs for rehabilitation. We hope that testing Toivo at OuluHealth Labs will open new doors for us and help us let others know about our solution as well as enable scaling the method to match wider customer groups and product portfolios.
So far, the satisfaction of Toivo’s users has been almost one hundred percent. The customers experienced that the pain had decreased, performing work-related tasks became easier, sleep quality improved, their thoughts were clearer, and their ability to manage improved. Toivo is an easy-to-use method so it can be successfully implemented in many sectors.
So, do you think Toivo will be used in the future in other sectors than occupational health?
Toivo pilots in the future will be directed to the care and education sector. To be precise, to companies and employees in these sectors. There is also validation and research of the Toivo method ahead in order to be able to work with the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) meter, which is an international standard to describe and measure health and disability. Hopefully, the method we have developed will be scaled and productized for wider user groups, for example, by adapting ready-made questionnaires to identify child alienation. We strive to participate in national projects. We also aim to develop methods and guidance for caregivers and school health care. We see our method as a tool for preventing burnout and suicides, child protection, resolving custody disputes, and preventing bullying and violence at schools or workplaces.
What are your other plans for the future?
The third version of our mobile application currently contains guidance material and a workbook. The report will soon be available not only as a PDF but also as an audio file. We are searching for funding for productization and starting sales, as well as legal advice on, for example, the patient register and GDPR rules.
We aim to find a customer for a larger Toivo pilot, for example, from ISS and the occupational health services of the social and health sectors. We are also interested in testing our solution in the Nordic Health Lab. Toivo instructor training is already available for companies and occupational health care. This way, our method is an active part of personnel recruitment and promotion of well-being at work. We are open to customers abroad as we also offer the software in English. One of our goals is to create a Toivo online platform where anyone can do Toivo analysis and receive guidance.
These are very ambitious plans. Good luck achieving all of them. I hope to continue seeing you active in the OuluHealth network.
CEO | Haka Solutions Oy
CPO | Haka Solutions Oy
Text: Joanna Seppänen, Health & Life Science, BusinessOulu
Image: Haka Solutions