- Paul Flaxman (Principal Investigator)
Around one in six British workers struggle with a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression at any one time. Employers want to help, but they need effective training so they can show employees how to deal with the unrelenting pressures of the modern workplace.
Dr Paul Flaxman and his colleagues at City, University of London created a training programme based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. They collected data from organisations that used the training. The data shows it leads to significant improvements in employees' mental health and psychological wellbeing.
What did we explore and how?
Many employees work at increasingly breakneck speeds and with fewer resources to help them. This can lead to poor mental health in the workplace. So there has been rising interest in using programmes to help workers deal with the pressures.
Dr Flaxman and his colleagues at City developed a programme adapted from ACT. They shared it with two local authorities in London between 2002 and 2004, and with a central government department and four NHS trusts from 2008 to 2013.
They then taught the programme to support staff from interested organisations. This was so support staff could learn how to share the training without Dr Flaxman's intervention. They can train their own colleagues directly.
Benefits and influence of this research
Organisations have an evidence-based training programme they can share with their own workforce. Support staff can collect data from employees before and after the training using questionnaires. This measures how effective the training is.
Dr Flaxman now works closely with Ross McIntosh, a research associate at City, to train support staff from interested organisations in delivering the programme. Since 2014, these organisations have used the training:
- 25 NHS trusts
- A central government department
- Schools in London and Bristol
- UK and Canadian ballet companies
- Nuffield Health
- The Welsh Government
- Three UK police forces
- Shoreditch Trust
- Mind, the mental health charity
- International workplace wellbeing practitioners in the US, Australia and Canada
Employees react well to the training and there have been significant benefits for their mental health and psychological wellbeing. There is proof of this in the letters, feedback and data that support staff have received from their colleagues.
Another sign of the training's success is its popularity. At Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, support staff have trained approximately 1500 senior nurses. The data collected indicated that the training has led to improvement in nurses' general mental health.