In July 2021, WMG at the University of Warwick, with partners University of Birmingham and Mind, the mental health charity, will begin delivery of the INWORK pilots, trialling new methods of mental health and wellbeing support for employees in the Midlands.
A late opportunity has arisen for new employers to join the research. If you are a Midlands-based employer and would like to find out more about participating in the free pilots, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org before 31 July 2021. There is no cost to employers to participate.
What are the INWORKS pilots?
The INWORK pilots will deliver evidence-based interventions designed to support the mental health and wellbeing of employees across the region, and increase productivity. They are funded by Midlands Engine and form part of the wider Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) programme. Find out more about the programme.
In autumn 2020, Midlands-based employers were invited to take part in the INWORK pilots, and we're delighted that 22 organisations will be hosting the pilots. As one of the 22 signed-up employers, University of Warwick staff will also be able to participate.
In April 2021, organisations will start advertising the pilots to their staff. For those eligible and selected to take part, delivery of the pilot will begin in July 2021. Three different interventions will be trialled as part of INWORK: REST, SLEEP and MENTOR.
Another MHPP pilot led by the Universities of Loughborough and Nottingham aims to help staff on long term sick leave return to work in a healthy and sustainable way. For more information please visit the PROWORK webpage.
REST is a digital intervention, similar to an online training programme, and will target symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. REST uses the techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, behavioural activation and mindfulness, and will aim to enhance knowledge and build practical skills in emotion regulation and resilience.
For example, many of us may have experienced unhelpful thinking, such as catastrophising (“I did a bad job in that meeting, now I’m going to lose my job”) and over-generalising (“my colleague didn’t say hello this morning, everyone here hates me”) from time-to-time. The REST programme aims to help participants recognise and restructure these and other automatic negative thoughts, which can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety to continue. REST is an eight week programme and is self-guided.
SLEEP is a six-week programme and will involve working through some skills training online in addition to 4 sessions with a therapist. For a week before beginning the trial and a week after finishing it, participants will also be provided with a sleep tracker to wear to monitor their sleep. SLEEP aims to improve the quality and quantity of sleep for those taking part, and is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for insomnia.
Content includes Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT), which initially restricts the amount of time spent in bed and aims to eliminate long periods of unwanted night-time wakefulness, and Stimulus Control Therapy (SCT). SCT aims to break unhelpful associations which the brain may have formed, such as linking bedtime and the bedroom with racing thoughts or anxiety about not sleeping.
MENTOR is designed for people who already have a mental health condition and are receiving treatment. A Mental Health Employment Liaison Worker, employed by our partners at Mind, will provide support in identifying and working towards individually-tailored goals. This could be to address a particular barrier faced at work, or to become more comfortable with having conversations about mental health at work.
MENTOR also provides opportunities for managers, as several liaison worker sessions will be dedicated to supporting the participant’s manager on topics which could include mental health awareness, practical action, and promoting wellbeing at work. MENTOR is a 12-week programme, which includes ten sessions with the liaison worker.
Control groups and impact
All the INWORK pilots will be run as randomised waitlist controlled trials. This means that half of the participants will be initially in a control group while the other half receive the intervention. We can then scientifically assess if someone who received the intervention experienced improvement, for example in their symptoms of insomnia, over and above the change shown by someone in the control group who went about their normal life. Everyone who is initially in the control group will also receive the interventions, but after a delay.
Insight from partner employers and participants will be used to improve and adapt the interventions, with the long term goal of making them available more widely after this pilot phase.
Given the disruption, worry, and pressures in the workplace, already existing and worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, this research could not be more timely, and we look forward to receiving expressions of interest from interested staff in April.