EMPOWER held, together with sister EU-funded Projects, a Webinar focused on fostering mental health at work.

Empower Webinar

Fostering mental health at work: emerging strategies from innovative projects in Europe.

Scope and purpose

EMPOWER, together with sister EU-funded projects (H-WORK, MAGNET4EUROPE, MENTUPP and MINDBOT), have organised a Webinar entitled Fostering mental health at work: emerging strategies from innovative projects in Europe, which took place on November 10, from 9 am to 1:30 pm (CET).

The EMPOWER project (The European Platform to Promote Wellbeing and Health in the workplace), is a European project which aims to reduce the impact of mental health problems in the workplace. It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the “Mental Health in the Workplace” topic.

In EMPOWER, we are committed to creating a mentally healthy workplace with a positive working culture. We put our trust in mental health research, as it generates many social and economic benefits. For instance, research is key to understanding which factors influence health and to identifying and testing interventions that promote health and wellbeing at the workplace.

This Webinar was a great opportunity for researchers and stakeholders (e.g., employers and employees in the private and public sector, policymakers and insurers) to get the latest insights on innovative initiatives to improve mental health in the workplace across Europe and learn from the experts on how to increase the impact of research, bringing together academia and industry.  Also, it was a fantastic way to draw attention to barriers to mental health, such as lack of mental health services and stigma in the workplace.

Click here to view the Programme >


Why mental health in the workplace matters

As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions can have a substantial effect on all areas of life (e.g., work performance, relationships with family and friends, etc.). Two of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year. Furthermore, depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.

Mental health problems in the workplace are associated with increase employee absenteeism, lower rates of productivity and increased costs. According to a report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO; Workplace Stress: A Collective Challenge, 2016), work-related stress costs global society untold billions in direct and indirect costs annually. Furthermore, these related costs are only beginning to be quantified. For example, in Europe, the estimated cost of work-related depression is €617 billion per year, including the costs to employers of absenteeism and presenteeism, loss of productivity and healthcare costs, amongst others.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased health inequalities and has affected people’s mental health worldwide. There is no doubt that this crisis has impacted the lives of workers all over the globe, and now more than ever, workplace leaders must support their employees’ mental health.

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. The promotion of mental health in the workplace, as well as the support of those suffering from a mental health condition, make it more likely to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

On the bright side, evidence is showing that treating mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression is an affordable and cost-effective way to promote wellbeing. Several interventions have been developed to promote wellbeing and prevent or treat mental disorders in the workplace. However, the implementation of these interventions faces many barriers. For instance, employers rarely view mental health as a priority and operational demands tend to limit the resources that are available for mental health and wellbeing programmes. Also, stigma against employees with mental health problems tends to lower participation in interventions.

Thanks to this Webinar, experts working on top innovative projects in Europe (i.e., projects focused on developing and implementing interventions in the workplace to promote good mental health and wellbeing) were able to share their research with key stakeholders and foster collaboration.

Meet our speakers and access the Webinar materials

Opening Remarks
Ledia Lazeri
Ledia Lazeri

Regional Office for Europe, WHO

Dr Ledia Lazeri is the Regional Adviser for Mental Health at the WHO Regional Office for Europe since May 2021. A native of Albania, she trained and worked as a psychiatrist in her home country, having contributed to the education of medical students and later on to the national reform of mental health policy and services. Having joined WHO in 2000, Dr Lazeri expanded her scope of work larger in the Balkans region through the Mental Health Project of the Stability Pact in South-Eastern Europe and later on in Turkey where she led a large EU funded WHO project on Improving Services for People with Disabilities. She took up duties as Regional Adviser in May 2021 after a few assignments as WHO Representative to various European countries.

In her function as Regional Adviser, Dr Lazeri leads a team that brings together expertise in various areas: policy and services, rights and advocacy, communication and promotion in mental health.

View opening remarks >
Oral presentations

H-Work: Multilevel Interventions to PromoteMental Health in SMEs and Public Workplaces

Luca Pietrantoni
Professor Luca Pietrantoni

University of Bologna, Italy

He is the coordinator of the H2020 Project H-WORK. He is the Head of the Research Unit Human Factors, Risk and Safety at the University of Bologna since 2014. He has more experience in teaching at a university level and providing training to organizations on behavioural issues on health and safety. He has been the Director of Second cycle degree in Work, Organization and Personnel Psychology at the University of Bologna (Italy) and he has been teaching psychology at the Italian Army Military Academy in Modena.

He is currently taking part in EU projects on human factors in safety/security issues (Perceptions) and transformation of work (Xspine). He is a member of European scientific organizations (European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology EAWOP, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society HFES-Europe Chapter). He has published in international academic journals, such as Accident Analysis & Prevention, Risk Analysis and Applied Ergonomics.

View the presentation of the H-Work Project > | Slides > 

Magnet4Europe: Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Health Care Workplace

Professor Jonathan Drennan
Professor Jonathan Drennan

University College Cork, Ireland

Professor Drennan is the lead of the Irish branch of the Magnet4Europe project. He currently holds the Chair of Nursing and Health Services Research at University College Cork; He previously held the Chair of Healthcare Research at the University of Southampton. He is registered in the general, psychiatric, learning disability and tutors’ divisions of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland Register.

He has experience in a wide range of research areas including clinical research, research into higher education, evaluation of health service initiatives, older persons’ research, sexual health, women’s health, psychometrics and research methods and, health workforce research.

View the presentation of the Magnet4Europe Project > | Slides >

Empower: The European Platform to Promote Wellbeing and Health in the workplace

Beatriz Olaya
Beatriz Olaya, PhD

Fundació Sant Joan de Déu, Spain

Coordinator of the Project H2020 EMPOWER. Post-doctoral researcher and co-leader of the “Impact, risk and prevention of mental disorders” group at the Research, Innovation and Teaching Unit of PSSJD.

She is a clinical psychologist, European doctor and MSc in Methodology and Statistics. She has been working for FSJD-PSSJD since 2010 as a post-doctoral researcher and has been involved in several national and international projects about the epidemiology of mental health. She is the co-leader of the “Impact, risk and prevention of mental disorders” research group at PSSJD and has published more than 70 scientific papers. Her main research interest has been focused on analyzing trajectories of health and mental health, especially associated with the ageing process, and cognitive functioning and mental disorders (depression and anxiety). Her interest now is also focused on the prevention of common mental disorders in the general population and the use of new technologies. 

View the presentation of the EMPOWER Project >  |  Slides >

MindBot: Promoting Good Mental Health in SMEs adopting COBOTs

Carla Dei, MSc
Carla Dei, MSc

IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Italy

She is a Product & Communication Designer at the Applied Technologies Research Area of IRCCS Medea. She graduated at Politecnico of Milan in MSc Programme “Integrated Product Design”, with a thesis focused on the User Experience based on Augmented reality in a retail contest.

This course of studies gives her the competence to approach design discipline in a comprehensive and systemic way, considering not only the product but also the whole experience derived. She’s interested in the study of UX analysis in clinical contests and the different typologies of human-machine interaction.

Fabio Storm
Fabio Storm, PhD

IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Italy

He is a Biomedical Engineer and Postdoc researcher at the Applied Technologies Research Area of IRCCS Medea. He obtained a PhD Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, with a thesis on gait monitoring in free-living conditions using wearable inertial sensors. 

He has expertise in biomechanical signal processing and clinical trials for medical devices. He has published in several peer-reviewed journals and has served as a reviewer for many international publications.

View the presentation of the MindBot Project >  |  Slides >

MentUpp: Mental Health Promotion and Intervention in Occupational Settings

Ella Arensman
Professor Ella Arensman

University College Cork, Ireland

Professor Ella Arensman (female) is Professor of Public Mental Health with the School of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health and Chief Scientist with the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF), University College Cork, Ireland.

She is Vice President of the European Alliance Against Depression and past President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. She is Visiting Professor with the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Brisbane, and an expert advisor for the WHO.

View the presentation of the MentUpp Project >  |   Slides >
Panel discussion

Bringing together academic and business insights to promote mental health in the workplace

Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla
Moderator: Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla

Australian National University, Australia

Luis Salvador-Carulla is Head of the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Research School of Population Health, College of Health and Medicine, Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.
He is also an Honorary Professor of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney (Australia).

Luis’ field of interest is decision support tools for the analysis of complex health systems and policy in mental health. He is a CI in the Horizon2020 project PECUNIA for producing standards units in costs analysis in Europe. He has coordinated the Integrated Atlas of Mental Health Project for mapping mental health provision which has been used in 34 countries around the world.

Meet our panellists
Julia Flintrop
Julia Flintrop

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)

Julia Flintrop is a psychologist specialised in occupational safety and health. She is working as a project manager with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) in Bilbao. Julia has obtained extensive experience in occupational safety and health, both at national and international levels, in the private and public sectors. She is the project manager in charge of the Agency´s online interactive risk assessment tool (OiRA).

Among other things, she has been working on the EU-OSHA campaign 2014/2015 on managing stress and she was the project manager at EU-OSHA in charge of the joint report with Eurofound on “Psychosocial risks in Europe – Prevalence and strategies for prevention”.
She is also a member of the award committee for the Eusebio Rial-González Innovation and Practice Awards and she is involved in a new big research project on psychosocial risks at work in EU-OSHA that will run from 2021-2025.

Luciano Pollastri
Luciano Pollastri

Amadeus IT Group

Luciano has been working for almost twenty years as Human Resources Business Partner, mostly in the tech industry, within multicultural/multinational environments, creating a balance between business objectives and people growth. He has held various positions at Amadeus since he joined in 2010, first as Human Resources Director for Western Europe, Middle East and Africa, and later Global Human Resources Business Partner for the largest business unit in the company.

Since January 2021, Luciano is in charge of Employee Experience and Digitalization, which includes among others Culture, Wellbeing, Hybrid Model, Engagement, People Analytics. With his team, they have been focusing on the adaptation of the ways of working during pandemic times, with the objective to maintain a permanent link with the employees to avoid employee social disconnection, isolation, and foster collaboration.

Ostermann Knut-Sören
Knut-Sören Ostermann

Stiftungsfamilie BSW & EWH, Germany

Clinical Sports Physiologist, Sports Medicine (Ma.Sc.). Knut-Sören focuses on health management, employee health (project fields: living environments/settings such as university, college, association, economy).

He works at Stiftungsfamilie BSW & EWH as a Project manager Peer at Work, where he is involved in the development of new, innovative measures for employees from Deutsche Bahn. He is also responsible for the foundation’s social projects.

Dorota Merecz-Kot
Prof. Dorota Merecz-Kot

University of Łódź, Poland

PhD in medical sciences, habilitation in health sciences. Professor in Health and Work Psychology Department of NIOM and professor at Institute of Psychology at the University of Łódź. She is a psychologist, counsellor, EMDR practitioner, trainer of psychoeducation and researcher. Author of over 120 scientific papers and chapters in books.

She was a leader or principal investigator in many national and international interdisciplinary research projects. Her main scientific interests are factors affecting mental health status, effects of stress on human functioning and health; trauma-related changes in human performance and health, bullying/harassment/ aggression at work, promotion of well-being and quality of life, education for health.

View the panel discussion >