Research at the University of Cambridge has found that many of the initiatives organisations are taking to increase resilience and alleviate mental health concerns have not adequately improved worker well-being and actually exacerbated stress levels. Well-being apps and classes “do not benefit mental health”
William Fleming of the University of Cambridge advised that the data from research of 26,471 employees found that various wellbeing and stress management initiatives had “no effect” on mental health.
He told delegates at a British Sociological Association online conference that the interventions appeared to be a “convenient option” for employers concerned with mental health, adding that merely offering “short-term programmes or classes are not satisfactory for solving long-standing problems of worker wellbeing”.
“These types of interventions appear to be a useful option for mental health employers, including the government. As employers, the government implements various welfare programs across civil servants and the NHS.
We analysed data from the UK’s Healthiest Workplace Survey and compared the welfare levels of those who participated in and did not participate in various welfare initiatives.
He found that of all the initiatives analysed – which included resilience and stress management classes, relaxation classes, mental health and wellbeing coaching, and events promoting healthy sleep – only volunteering for charity work improved mental health, while stress management classes actually worsened staff wellbeing.
Fleming said the results are counter to much of the “prevailing narrative around mental health interventions in governmental policy, within HR management and public health literature”.
Short term view
These results are not surprising. Instead of one off-stress management ‘solutions’ companies must adopt a more personal, proactive, partnership approach to wellbeing strategy. Whenever the latest wellbeing topic- managing personal finance for example- appears over the horizon, we see a plethora of app’s, courses, classes, seminars etc, flooding the market.
The problem is that not enough is being done to address the underlying causes of stress in our lives. Mental health has been ignored for too long and was largely seen as a ‘personal’ problem rather than a corporate responsibility. Many organisations have sought to ‘resolve’ ‘the problem’ with a quick fix app, one off training course and the like.
Long term investment in building relationships
The research concluded that the initiatives were “not helpful” for the average worker and argued that intervention for employee mental health must be at a management level. Fleming told the conference delegates that it should not be the role of employees to “persistently address their own mental health, but that of management to comprehensively consider and address the structures of work which cause harm through stress, trauma and uncertainty”.
The answer is developing trust and relationship with individual employees who then feel conformable to open up about the underlying issue. From then proactive support can be introduced.
The challenge for the busy HR manager or line manager is time. They are busy with their own jobs and often under stress themselves. That’s where our P3 model of care comes in. It’s a journey, not a one day one off class or workshop.
Our weekly face to face visits develop the trust required to give employees confidence in opening up about their issues. Then we can proactively get them the help they need working in partnership towards a successful conclusion.
About P3 Business Care
P3 Business Care is a Community Interest Company and social enterprise operating across the UK. Supporting your business on a weekly basis we provide personal and proactive care to your employees working in partnership with the company. Our Business Partners visit your business developing trust & relationships so we can identify and address issues before they become crisis, absence, or staff turnover. Read more about our services here