Experts discuss how work plays a role in mental health at Cambridge Festival of Ideas

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Photo by Benjavisa Ruangvaree/Adobe Stock

15 October 2019

The role of mental health in the workplace has become one of society’s growing concerns. While mental health is a very personal matter, it can have a pervasive impact on society in terms of costs and productivity.

As part of the 2019 Cambridge Festival of Ideas, RAND Europe Research Leader Susan Guthrie participated in the panel discussion "How Does Work Play a Role in Mental Health?" Her fellow panelists were Sir Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, and Sarah Hughes, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health. RAND Europe sponsored the 14 October panel.

An audience of over 100 people heard the speakers’ perspectives on the topic of mental health: Sir Norman on the programme introduced by the West Midlands Combined Authority to drive better mental health and wellbeing across the region, Guthrie on her research examining the state of mental health among researchers in academia and Hughes on trauma in the workplace. The speakers shared the challenges to improve mental health in their respective contexts, and were optimistic that the workplace could bring about better mental health, if policymakers take decisions based on evidence.

Mental health and wellbeing research is a growing area of expertise for RAND Europe, which draws on knowledge from across a range of disciplines and methodological backgrounds. The study discussed at the panel event, Understanding Mental Health in the Research Environment, found that stress can be a challenge for academics, and that staff report worse wellbeing than those in other types of employment.

Talking about mental ill health and the efforts to improve the wellbeing of those who suffer from it helps to raise awareness. The event followed World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2019.