Research projects

Integrated workplace mental health promotion for the prevention and management of mental illness in the workplace: A controlled experimental intervention study

Principal researchers

Associate Professor Anthony D. LaMontagne

Institution

University of Melbourne – McCaughey Centre

Funding

$299,260

Award type

beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year

2014

Project aims and methods 

In this project, the research team aimed to implement and evaluate an integrated job stress prevention and mental health literacy intervention in a predominantly male, blue-collar manufacturing setting. Intervention implementation and effectiveness was evaluated using a controlled experimental design, with one Melbourne area worksite receiving the intervention for one year while a similar regionally-based worksite from the same company served as a wait-list control. The control site received a restricted range of activities after the intervention was completed at the main intervention site. Data on the main outcomes of interest, exposure to job stressors and mental health literacy, was collected by survey at baseline, the end of year 1, and the end of year 2. Qualitative interviews were also conducted with key informants during and at the conclusion of the intervention.  

Results

The intervention was developed in collaboration with external workplace stakeholders (a community health organisation and beyondblue’s Workplace Program) as well as staff of the company, including the operations manager, occupational health and safety officer, floor supervisors and general staff. Project activities included beyondblue workplace training for staff and managers, Mental Health First Aid, a tailored leadership workshop, one-on-one management coaching, and specific job stress reduction and team building activities for general staff. 

Post-intervention survey respondents reported that they experienced beneficial changes at both the workplace and individual levels. Over 56% of respondents at the intervention site reported that the intervention had resulted in positive improvements in their workplace in comparison to 16% at the control site (p=0.002). Similarly, respondents at the intervention site were far more likely to report some personal benefit from the intervention (52% intervention vs 16% control, p=0.005).  This was supported by the qualitative interviews, which suggested that the intervention was a positive and protective factor during a particularly difficult time of ownership change and restructuring in the company. 

However, there was no clear evidence of improvement from the survey-based measurements of specific psychosocial working conditions and mental health literacy. Due to a low response rate and very small numbers of responses at the control site, the researchers were effectively unable to use the control site as a non-intervention comparison for analyses comparing change in the intervention versus control site for working conditions and mental health literacy. Considering change only within the intervention site, however, showed relatively small changes in both directions (improvements and worsening) in working conditions and mental health literacy. This suggests that neither was appreciably changed over the course of the intervention.

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