Major initiative calls on Black Country businesses to prioritise mental health and boost productivity

Led by the University of Warwick, healthcare experts at universities of Birmingham, Nottingham and Loughborough are collaborating with mental health charity Mind, to develop new and innovative ways that employers can support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff, reduce absence and improve productivity.

Two pilot projects are commencing October 2020 and are open to all size businesses from different sectors.  There is no cost and employers are invited to contact the lead researchers now, for details of what’s involved and to express interest. 

Pilot 1 led by University of Warwick – Supporting employers and their workers with mental health concerns to remain engaged and productive at work – the SMARTER study 

This project will focus on early detection of sub-threshold mental health problems in the workplace using an online tool.  It will provide a range of evidence-based targeted actions to reduce current mental health difficulties in three identified populations of varying mental health severity.  

One such targeted action is to provide, specialist trained Mental Health Employment Liaison Workers (MHELW) to work as an interface between businesses and mental health providers in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MHELW will support the mental health and productivity of employees with mental health problems who are working.

 The trial aims to maintain and improve engagement with work by reducing mental health symptoms and improving wellbeing.

To receive more detailed information email Dr Krishane Patel, Research Fellow at University of Warwick  

Pilot 2 led by Loughborough University – Helping employees get back to work: employer and employee return to work toolkits 

Mental health issues account for a significant proportion of long-term sickness absence from work (Deloitte, 2020). Whilst over 75% of employees who go on sick leave with a mental health issue do eventually return to work (RTW; Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2011), those who are absent for six months or longer have less than a 50% chance of ever returning to employment (Waddell, Burton 2006). Therefore, early intervention to support an employee back to work is vital for the employee (e.g. financial, social, psychological gains) and the employer (e.g. reduced turnover, recruitment costs, retention of knowledge, and culture of wellbeing). 

This pilot focuses on an employer and employee return to work toolkit to improve mental wellbeing and enhance the successful transition back to work following long term sick leave.  It is hoped that using the toolkits will lead to a range of benefits that will be tested as part of the project. 

  • Improved mental health (e.g. anxiety, depression, stress, feelings and emotions) 
  • Higher confidence levels to return to work (e.g. self-efficacy) 
  • Improved work performance (e.g. performance, work engagement, ability, limitations and psychosocial working conditions) 
  • Improved health-related quality of life 
  • Lifestyle behaviours (e.g. physical activity, reduced sitting time and improved sleep duration and quality) 

To receive more detailed information email lead researchers at Loughborough University:  

Dr Veronica Varela-Mato or Dr Fehmidah Munir 

Article by Mental Health & Productivity Pilot.