MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Wellcome Trust Further Invests In Workplace Mental Health Practice Research

Wellcome Trust wants employers and scientists to work together in the name of mental health practices research.
Group of people in group therapy feeling positive.

The global charitable foundation has commissioned a further 15 research teams to review the evidence behind more approaches to mental health practices within the workplace. After working with 10 research teams previously, this time the organisation is looking at a wider range of mental health problems and all-age workers.

Wellcome Trust says it will work with employers and members of the mental health science community to build a better understanding of what works and in what context: “We’re currently working with researchers from across the world to look at the evidence behind approaches for supporting mental health in the workplace. As part of this, we’re also trying to understand where there are gaps in the evidence.”

More Employers Want To Support Staff Mental Health

According to Wellcome Trust, the evidence it has found as part of its work is that businesses want to put in place interventions that support the mental health of their workers. To do this, the organisation says that scientists and employers will need to come and work together to build a more robust evidence base.

“There are many reasons why employers choose to invest in workplace mental health, including research showing that anxiety and depression are costing the global economy approximately $1 trillion every year in lost productivity,” the organisation says on its website.

However, while there are good intentions from employers, currently there are very few businesses that meaningfully measure the impact of what they’re doing to support the mental health of their workers.

“When they do, few make this data publicly available,” the organisation says. “This means there is little research for employers to draw upon when deciding which approaches may benefit their workforce, including how to put these into practice.”

Wellcome Trust is proposing to fill these gaps by working with scientists and businesses, testing mental health interventions in the workplace. It will then publish the data for others to see. It is also funding the World Health Organisation (WHO) to develop guidelines on workplace mental health interventions, based on the existing evidence available. The guidelines are expected to be made public in 2022.

Lived Experiences Will Inform Evidence On Mental Health Workplace Practices

Wellcome Trust is working with advisors who have lived experiences of mental health problems. These advisors will inform decisions on what to fund. The organisation is also asking its research teams to work collaboratively with them.

The additional 15 research teams will look at areas such as:

  • Arts-based interventions for care professionals
  • Boundary management to preserve work-life balance
  • Education on tackling adversities in life and at work for migrant workers
  • Empowering workplace allies to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees
  • Gatekeeper training programmes
  • Individual employment support as a mental health intervention for autistic people
  • Insurance for agricultural workers in low- and middle-income countries
  • Interventions and policies to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Maternity leave policies
  • Mental health stigma reduction interventions
  • Peer support for migrant domestic workers
  • Reducing workplace violence against healthcare workers
  • Sleep health interventions for shift workers
  • Supported employment interventions in low- and middle-income countries
  • Team resilience training for healthcare providers in low- and middle-income countries

The findings will be available in Spring 2022.

Did you enjoy reading this? Consider reading How to turn mental health talk into lasting change, Eight mental health questions people ask and How to look after employee mental health in the workplace.