From Vivienne Batt
Advancing equity in mental health promoting practices in the workplace
Author: Tosca Keppler, Discipline of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland Galway
Other Authors: Dr Tuuli Kuosmanen, Professor Margaret Hodgins and Margaret M. Barry
Funder: HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) and Healthy Ireland
Promoting mental health in the workplace is associated with improved health and wellbeing, reduced absenteeism,
increased productivity and improved financial returns (WHO, 2019). However, there is a lack of knowledge on what
services are being offered and how these align with models of international best practice. The aim of this study,
commissioned by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) and Healthy Ireland, was to map the range
of mental health promotion supports and services that are offered by the voluntary sector to workplaces in Ireland
and to identify evidence-informed approaches that could be adopted to promote the mental health and wellbeing of
The study was conducted in two parts. Study 1 consisted of mapping the mental health supports offered to
workplaces by the voluntary sector. Of the 27 identified organisations, 17 (63%) participated in an electronic
survey and key informant interviews. Study 2 was a rapid review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the
effectiveness of workplace mental health promotion interventions published in the last 10 years (2010-2021). The
search of selected academic databases and public/occupational health websites resulted in 2770 articles of which 43
reviews were included in the study. The findings from the two studies were integrated to consider to what extent the
approaches that are being delivered match international best practice.
The organisations reported mainly delivering short educational interventions focused on stigma reduction and
awareness raising, with more structured approaches to promoting mental health being less common. The findings
from the rapid review indicate that there is a wide array of interventions that can be effectively implemented in
workplaces to reduce stress, depression and anxiety and improve wellbeing. There is limited evidence that voluntary
organisations are supporting workplaces in developing organisational strategies to promote employee mental health,
which, according to the rapid review findings, is essential in achieving positive work-related outcomes.
The findings indicate the need to widen the scope of evidence-based workplace mental health interventions
delivered by the voluntary sector in Ireland. Furthermore, support is needed for developing organisational strategies
and engaging employees in creating mentally healthy workplaces.
Finally, the mapping study revealed that many of the workplaces that voluntary organisations support are
predominantly white collar, highly educated professions including mostly banks, solicitors, retailers, and multinational
corporations. This highlights a gap in equity for blue collar workers and lower income employees who, in
fact, have greater need for health support. The findings will help guide the implementation of the National Healthy
Workplace Framework being developed by the Department of Health in Ireland.
Contact email: [email protected]