ResearchPutting science to work: Wellcome bolsters understanding of what works for workplace mental health

New research from Wellcome, with the World Economic Forum, reveals critical role that businesses need to play in building the evidence about what works.
Content Team3 years ago10 min

A new report from Wellcome, with the World Economic Forum, summarises promising approaches for addressing workplace mental health. It also sets out why businesses and researchers need to work together to take a more scientific approach to supporting mental health at work.

In 2020, Wellcome commissioned ten global research teams to look at the existing evidence behind a single promising approach for addressing anxiety and depression in the workplace, with a focus on younger workers. This new document contains findings from the ten research projects that looked at the evidence behind promising approaches for supporting workplace mental health; suggested actions businesses can take, based on this evidence; and, perhaps most importantly, reflections on gaps in the evidence and why it’s important for businesses and scientists to work together to understand what works.

Key findings include

  • Excessive sitting has risks for both physical and mental health. Reducing the time office workers spend sitting by an hour a day may reduce depression symptoms by approximately 10% and anxiety symptoms by around 15%.
  • Flexible working can benefit mental health by decreasing the amount of conflict people experience between their work and home lives. This conflict can be a source of stress and may contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • More job autonomy is associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression. Employers can increase employees’ autonomy by allowing them more freedom to craft how they do their roles.
  • There is significant evidence from high-income countries to show that workplace mindfulness interventions have a positive impact on mental health. But far less is known about their effectiveness in low- and middle-income countries.

The research identifies important gaps in our knowledge about what works. Businesses and scientists need to work together to fill these gaps in the evidence to understand how employers can most effectively support the mental health of their staff.

Wellcome’s research will be particularly useful reading for all disciplines associated with people and performance in the workplace:

  • employers
  • policy makers
  • employees
  • researchers


Read the summary report about all ten projects, and the individual research reports submitted to Wellcome:

For more information, contact Rhea Newman, Policy and Advocacy Adviser, at [email protected]

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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