New Boundaries, New Uncertainties: COVID-19 as both Barrier and Gateway to Engagement with Online Mental Health Training and Support

Trisha Forbes*, Karen Galway, Paul Best, Heike Schröder, Paula McFadden, Patricia Gillen, Mark Tully, John Moriarty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Abstract

As well as being a common source of stress, the workplace can be an arena in
which greater awareness of the nature and causes of mental ill-health can be fostered. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of work and the context of occupational health. iAmAWARE is an online platform, which enables employees to access psychoeducation and stress reduction training. Piloting of iAmAWARE with participant organisations coincided with the beginning of COVID lockdown. This paper reflects on lessons learned from introducing iAmAWARE and considers how participants reported the impact of lockdown on their personal wellbeing. Following prior consultation and design input from representatives of the organisations, a prototype of iAmAWARE was made available to participants, with surveys before and after the period capturing
wellbeing, workplace stress and mental health literacy. COVID-19 presents major challenges for both researchers and organisations wishing to positively impact employees’ mental health. The participation of organisations and employees was put under strain by uncertainty and demands of responding to lockdown conditions. Our study demonstrates growing levels of engagement
with mental health, suggesting demand for programmes which are demonstrably effective and adaptable to shifting organisational contexts. Employers are correct to view COVID as a moment to invest in employees’ mental wellbeing and allow employees time to upskill and increase awareness. Researchers must be flexible, adaptable and sensitive to the needs of organisations if they wish to produce research which impacts workplace wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 3rd International Electronic Conference on Environmental Research and Public Health: Public Health Issues in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Proceedings
Number of pages5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • mental health
  • workplaces
  • wellbeing
  • computer-based
  • online
  • psychoeducation
  • coproduction
  • occupational health
  • covid-19

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