Published:

Mental health is focus of Irish Horizon 2020 success story

A new project to improve workplace mental health in the construction, health and ICT sectors is being headed up by HRB Research Leader, Professor Ella Arensman, School of Public Health at UCC and National Suicide Research Foundation.

illustration of people speaking in a group with speech bubbles

The EU funded MINDUP project (“Mental Health Promotion and Intervention in Occupational Settings”), in partnership with Dr Birgit Greiner and 17 partners in 14 other countries* combines expertise from various disciplines to improve the early recognition and treatment of depression in occupational settings and reduce suicidal behaviour. It will deliver sustainable interventions for mental health promotion in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Europe and Australia and engage employees, supervisors and managers.

The project is timely given statistics** show depression and anxiety are the most prevalent mental health difficulties in the workplace in the EU and cost the global economy €1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Workers in certain occupational sectors, such as construction, health and ICT, are known to have poorer mental health, an elevated risk of suicide and reduced wellbeing. 

The intervention will go beyond existing mental health promotion and suicide prevention programmes, with tools to tackle stress, burnout, wellbeing, depression, anxiety and destigmatisation of mental (ill-) health. An additional aim of MINDUP is to reduce depression and suicidal behaviour. 

The MINDUP project is particularly relevant considering the short-term and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on companies, including increased stress related depression and anxiety among staff, as it aims to improve mental health and wellbeing in the workplace by developing, implementing and evaluating a free intervention targeting both clinical (depressive, anxiety disorders) and non-clinical (stress, burnout, wellbeing, depressive symptoms) conditions, as well as fighting against the stigma of mental (ill-) health in SMEs. This multi-faceted approach represents a unique aspect of the MINDUP project.

According to Professor Arensmen, ‘More knowledge is needed about effective interventions by employers to promote good mental health and about the barriers to effective implementation of such interventions, in particular for smaller enterprises and public agencies with less resources and knowledge to manage these health issues.’ 

‘Part of this knowledge can be learning how to conduct a conversation with an employee who, for example, no longer has lunch with colleagues etc. Such measures can pave the way to professional treatment and thus reduce  the costs of absenteeism and presenteeism. By training HR managers, executives and employees, affected colleagues may find their way to professional treatment more quickly.’

Project will receive €4 million in EU funding with €1 million going to lead Irish partners UCC, NSRF and Pintail Ltd).

More information: https://www.mindupproject.eu/ 

*Albania, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA.  Australia is also involved as a MINDUP intervention country through a strategic collaboration between the EU and NHMRC in Australia The project leverages the extensive network of the European Alliance Against Depression.

** Wan Mohd Yunus WMA, Musiat P, Brown JSL. Systematic review of universal and targeted workplace interventions for depression. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2018;75(1):66-75. 
 

Related content