Exploring how workplace financial interventions can support the mental health of young people

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Participation in workplace financial wellbeing interventions is associated with better mental health, particularly amongst certain subgroups of workers, according to survey data from healthiest workplace competitions.

What is the issue?

The relationship between poor financial wellbeing and anxiety and depression is well recognised. A high proportion of young workers globally report having financial concerns, an issue which is exacerbated by the financial impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Workplace financial wellbeing interventions could offer a key means for addressing rising financial concerns and mental health issues in the workplace.

How did we help?

RAND Europe was commissioned by the Wellcome trust to support its mental health programme strategy, which aims to transform how we understand, fund, prevent and treat anxiety and depression in young people by creating a mental health priority area. Using data from the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace (BHW) and Asia’s Healthiest Workplace (AHW) surveys and a rapid evidence assessment, the study outlines the likely impact of workplace financial wellbeing interventions on preventing and addressing anxiety and depression in young people.

The study followed a broad approach to help provide a better understanding of the contexts, communities and groups within which these interventions are promising.

What did we find?

Through our analysis of BHW and AHW data of employees, we found that participation is associated with better mental health, particularly amongst certain subgroups.

Across both BHW and AHW samples, a stronger association between participation and mental health is found amongst 18-24 year olds and those with low incomes. In the UK sample this extends to workers who do not have a university degree, are from an ethic minority background, or believe there is discrimination in the workplace. This highlights the potential role of these interventions in addressing the mental health of young workers in these groups.

What do we recommend?

Our findings suggest that workplace financial wellbeing interventions are a potentially promising approach, but overall, evidence of the effectiveness of these interventions on the mental health of young workers is lacking and there is a pressing need for further evidence.

Employers should consider implementing workplace financial wellbeing interventions, and we provide recommendations to support this process. These include focusing on topics and skills identified as important by young people and developing strategies to enable access and encourage participation. Furthermore, interventions should be tailored to the needs and characteristics of individuals and groups and targeted at those most in need.