2020 brought disruption to most people's working lives including, for many, a loss or struggle to find employment. Those who were employed (and those who employed others) faced new challenges: from adapting to working at home, to balancing work with home schooling, to dealing with new risks when working on the frontline. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has significantly affected where and how we work and raised employee mental health even higher on the workplace agenda.

At last year's World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos(opens in a new tab), Wellcome encouraged businesses to stop throwing money at programmes advertised on glossy brochures, and focus instead on understanding the science behind what really works for whom in terms of supporting mental health at work. A year on, at virtual Davos Agenda 2021(opens in a new tab), it was encouraging to see workplace mental health top of the agenda for so many.

As our work over the last year at Wellcome has shown, despite progress, we still have a lot to learn about this.

In 2020 we funded ten global research teams(opens in a new tab) to look at the evidence behind promising approaches for preventing anxiety and depression in the workplace, with a focus on younger workers.

The approaches included peer support, financial wellbeing, flexible working and group psychological first aid. Two teams also looked specifically at interventions in low- and middle-income countries, focusing on mindfulness and involving the workforce.

Later this year, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, we'll be launching a second commission to review the evidence behind other promising approaches to supporting mental health at work. We're particularly keen to understand more about the effectiveness of specific approaches in low- and middle-income countries and how to support different groups within the workforce.

We'll also continue to talk to businesses about what it means to take a science-based approach. We've already spoken to many organisations who are thinking about how they can best support the mental health of their employees. And it’s been encouraging to see a growing number of organisations collaborating on this, including through networks such as the Global Business Collaboration for Better Mental Health and One Mind at Work, who see how important evidence is.

Read the full article about understanding mental health work by Miranda Wolpert at Wellcome.