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May 28th 2020 - Press notes

New resource to assist SMEs in managing the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of their workers

New resource to assist SMEs in managing the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of their workers

The MINDUP project began in January 2020 to support SMEs in the mental health care of their workers. Now adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighting its usefulness in current circumstances.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are far reaching and long lasting for people working in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in terms of people's wellbeing and mental health and the social and economic impacts.

The EU-funded large-scale MINDUP project ("Mental Health Promotion and Intervention in Occupational Settings") began in January 2020. MINDUP aims to improve mental health and wellbeing in the workplace by developing, implementing and evaluating a multilevel intervention targeting both prevalent psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety disorders) and non-clinical aspects of mental health (stress, burnout, wellbeing, depressive symptoms).

Considering the short-term and long-term impacts of COVID-19, including staff stress and anxiety, reduced quality and perhaps intensity of care for those with mental disorders, or other impacts associated with the COVID-19-crisis, the MINDUP project is timely while it offers to SMEs support and intervention tools with a specific focus on alleviating depression and anxiety among staff.

The MINDUP Consortium, coordinated by Prof. Ella Arensman, Dr Birgit Greiner, School of Public Health and National Suicide Research Foundation, University College Cork, consists of 17 international partners,  including the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), which is the only participant in the State.

"We will suffer the negative effects of the economic impact on the companies we work for, the effects of confinement, grief over the loss of a loved one and/or the fear of going back to work. For all these reasons, I believe that the MIND-UP project is even more important in the context of COVID-19, as our online tool can help SMEs better manage the stress, anxiety and depression that COVID-19 may generate in their workers, and that adds to the previously existing stressors", explains Benedikt Amann, a psychiatrist at the Hospital del Mar's Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Addictions (INAD), researcher at the Hospital del Mar Institute of Medical Research (IMIM) and the CIBERSAM, and head of the MINDUP project in Spain.

Main researchers. Left to right: Bridget Hogg, Victor Pérez, Ana Moreno, Benedikt Amann, Joan Medina.

Prof. Arensman states that, "taking into account the severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the short and long term, MINDUP is a timely initiative while it will provide supports and resources to staff at all levels of SMEs to improve wellbeing, mental health and coping with stress"

MINDUP will design interventions targeted at and delivered to SMEs, starting with three specific sectors; construction, healthcare and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Research has consistently shown that people in these sectors have poor mental health and an elevated risk of suicide. MINDUP merges experts in mental health, suicide prevention, depression, stigma, implementation science, health economics and other interdisciplinary fields from Albania, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Kosovo, The Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA.

One of the MINDUP partners, the European Alliance Against Depression, operates an online self-management programme, the iFightDepression® tool, which is offered for free to people with milder forms of depression. The programme is suitable for adults and young people and consists of workshops) that focus on increasing and structuring daily activity, identifying and challenging unhelpful thought patterns, monitoring mood, adopting healthy sleeping patterns and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As part of its work, MINDUP aims to enhance and tailor this programme to those in workplace settings.

The European Alliance Against Depression has established open access to the programme for the acute phase of the current crisis to relieve health care systems in Europe and beyond.For further information about iFightDepression® please visit www.ifightdepression.com.

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