Why an evidence-driven approach is the best way for businesses to support workplace mental health (World Economic Forum):
Mental health has never been higher on the agenda for businesses. It is easy to see why, as even prior to COVID-19, anxiety and depression were estimated to cost the global economy over $1 trillion every year in lost productivity. The exodus from offices in 2020 has presented further challenges and raised big questions about future ways of working … The absence of a deep and robust evidence base for approaches to supporting workplace mental health is a problem and can lead to well-intentioned businesses making critical and sensitive decisions in the dark. At best, such interventions are working and we just don’t know why or, at worst, they could be causing harm to workforces…
Wellcome, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, is publishing new research on workplace mental health: Putting Science to Work – Understanding What Works for Workplace Mental Health. Ten global research teams reviewed the evidence behind promising approaches for addressing anxiety and depression in the workplace, with a focus on younger workers.
These reviews show that there are some things that businesses can learn based on the existing evidence. To share a few examples:
- Breaking up excessive sitting: light activity just one hour per eight-hour day may reduce depression symptoms by around 10% and anxiety by 15%. Some ways to break up excessive sitting include sit-stand desks, standing meetings and encouraging movement breaks.
- Mindfulness interventions: shown to be effective through many studies in high-income countries, but there may be important considerations for adapting them to workplaces in low and middle-income countries.
- Flexible working: can benefit mental health by decreasing the amount of conflict people experience between their work and home lives. Importantly, uptake of flexible working often depends on the amount of support from managers as well as organizational culture.
About the Report:
Description: This report summarises what we at Wellcome have learned from our first commission on promising approaches for addressing workplace mental health. It also sets out why businesses and researchers need to work together to take a more scientific approach to supporting mental health at work. What’s inside:
- findings from ten research projects that looked at the evidence behind promising approaches for supporting workplace mental health
- suggested actions businesses can take, based on this evidence
- reflections on gaps in the evidence and why it’s important for businesses and scientists to work together to understand what works.