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Leeds Trinity University To Shine A Spotlight On Mental Health In The Workplace

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Dr Ian Kenvyn and Nina Fryer, Associate Principal Lecturers from the Department of Sport, Health and Nutrition at Leeds Trinity University, have been appointed by Leeds Mind to evaluate attitudes to mental health in the workplace.

Ian and Nina will undertake a research project that will evaluate the not-for-profit organisation’s impact, based on how a range of employers respond to its advice, guidance and support when dealing with mental health in the workplace.

The total number of cases of work-related stress in 2014-15 was 440,000[1], which has reportedly cost British businesses around £26 billion. Mindful Employer Leeds, which is part of the national Mindful Employer framework and is delivered by Leeds Mind, will run a twelve-month research project, which will put three different types of organisations under the spotlight. The aim is to identify what their various internal challenges are when it comes to adopting strategies to address mental health.

There are three main strands to the programme of research. Mindful Employer Leeds will first identify what organisations are doing already. Then it will then feed into, or in some cases help to create, employee mental health plans and strategies. Finally, Ian and Nina will combine their expertise and knowledge to evaluate the data, to see how well-received the plans and strategies are.

Three unnamed, Yorkshire-based organisations, have volunteered to take part in the study, representing the third sector, private sector and public sector.

Third sector– the focus for this organisation will be on employees who deliver front-line services. The organisation recognises that there are benefits of having a mental health strategy, as well as a cost; however there is a struggle when it comes to delivering the programme effectively to a relatively remote workforce.

Private sector– this organisation knows that their employees work under pressure and can endure a lot of stress in their line of work. There is recognition of the fact that a level of investment needs to be made and a programme built to help manage its approach to mental health.

Public sector– this organisation has the challenge of a very large workforce, which forms part of an even larger and complex structure. It has already shown an interest in running a pilot scheme to slowly introduce a consistent programme to one department at a time.

Ian, who is Programme Leader for the FdA Workplace Wellbeing at Leeds Trinity University, says: “Dealing with mental health in the workplace has long been a challenge, given that businesses in Britain operate on such a vast scale. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to working out what is right.

“One of the biggest challenges that organisations face is understanding the scale of mental health and how it affects their workforce. They then have to look at how they address the problem, as well as identify the best way to deliver it, so that they can ensure that it has a positive impact.

“Nina and I are really proud to be a part of this research programme and are keen to share our expertise with Mindful Employer Leeds, so that there is a stronger push when it comes to addressing mental health in the workplace.”

Sarah Moore, Mindful Employer Leeds coordinator, from Leeds Mind says: “Working with over 100 organisations in Leeds, we’ve been providing easier access for employers to find information and local support in relation to staff experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions since 2012. This year we’re excited to have the funding to work with three organisations in a more tailored approach and are looking forward to seeing the independent analysis of the outcomes of our partnerships.”

Both Ian and Nina have extensive experience when it comes to wellbeing in the work place. In addition to Ian’s research and academic commitments, he is involved in the delivery of mental health and resilience programmes for students and staff in local universities and is a founding member of the UK Healthy Universities Network. Nina is a public health professional with an academic background in organisational health and wellbeing, health promotion and evaluation of interventions.  

Leeds Trinity University is becoming increasingly renowned for research excellence, particularly in the Arts and Humanities, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Psychology, Education and Social Policy.