Cupids Health

Comprehensive research review identifies most promising interventions to boost workplace mental health

Image: Ellice Weaver/Wellcome

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.

Down­load the sum­ma­ry HERE (30 pages; opens PDF) and access ten detailed research reports HERE.

The Report in Context:

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