EFPA interviews: Davide Giusino from UNIBO

A new interview in the EFPA News Magazine informs about the progress of the H-WORK project and provide insights into the role of the different partners of the consortium. EFPA is one of the 14 partners of the H-WORK project. This time, Bruna Zani interviewed Davide Giusino from UNIBO. He is a registered psychologist, PhD candidate in Psychological Sciences and member of the Human Factors, Risk and Safety – Research Unit at the Department of Psychology of the Alma Mater Studiorum (University of Bologna).

1. Please explain what the innovation platform “Mental Health at Work” is.

The Mental Health at Work Platform is one of the main outcomes of the EU-H2020 research and innovation project H-WORK, which aimed to design, develop, implement, and validate multilevel assessment, intervention, and evaluation toolkits to promote mental health in SMEs and public workplaces across Europe. As such, it constitutes the result of a huge collaborative effort between the project Consortium (coordinated by the University of Bologna) and the Italian software house Indici Opponibili (from Bologna as well!). Concretely, it is a free digital platform that aims to help employers, HR managers, and OHS professionals address mental health at their workplace based on EU-funded international scientific research.

2. What is the rationale behind the platform?

According to empirical evidence from European reports, we know that most European managers are concerned about stress and mental disorders in their workplaces. However, only a minority of them have procedures in place to deal with mental issues effectively. Due to a lack of knowledge and guidance, deciding which interventions should be implemented is a common issue facing employers. One of the main challenges in this sector is, therefore, to support organisations and their representatives in recognising psychosocial risk factors as a critical concern that needs to be addressed by concrete measures. Also, a significant limitation of existing workplace interventions is the lack of cost-effectiveness evaluation, particularly in SMEs. It is, therefore, relevant to assess the cost-effectiveness, business case, and budget impact of implemented interventions from the employer’s perspective. The Mental Health at Work Platform is designed as a service or tool addressing these challenges mentioned so far.

3. What are the objectives of the platform?

The aim of the platform is that of helping employers, HR managers, and OHS professionals to act on mental health at work. At its very core, the Mental Health at Work Platform is a set of services and tools that practitioners can use to act upon mental health and well-being in the organisations – especially public organisations and SMEs. It provides analytical, decision-making, intervention, and evaluation tools to promote well-being in the workplace. Through the platform, organisations can benchmark their organisations against others similar in size and sector and use the decision support system to understand recommended interventions. Also, it allows to calculate how much money an organisation could save by carrying out mental health actions.

4. How is the platform composed?

The Mental Health at Work Platform is composed of three main parts. First, the Interactive Tools (H-WORK Benchmarking Tool, H-WORK Decision Support System, and H-WORK Economic Calculator) can be accessed by users, who will just be requested to answer few short questions and to fill-in some basic information to get feedback, suggestions, tips, and tricks on what to do and how to do it. Then, the H-WORK Roadmap is a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a whole intervention project addressing mental health in the workplace: It illustrates how to prepare the ground for the project, how to prioritise the needs for intervention, how to plan the actions that are needed and put them into practice, and how to keep track, sustain, and measure the success of the implemented initiatives. Finally, the Policy Briefs can be downloaded to gather guidelines and recommendations to practitioners and policymakers at national and EU levels.

5. Who are the targets of the platform?

The users or stakeholders of the Mental Health at Work Platform are identified as any workplace mental health practitioner in Europe. This might include employers, Human Resource managers, and Occupational Health and Safety professionals. Although the platform has been thought to support SMEs and public workplaces specifically, its offer also applies to large private organisations.

6. The platform has already been presented on several occasions: what was the reception?

The first public version of the platform has been officially released in January 2023 and presented in several conferences and meetings to disseminate and exploit it. Some of such occasions were the national conference of the Italian Association of Psychology, the Workplace Wellness Institute conference, and the EFPA Presidents’ Council Meeting. The reception was positive, the platform has been well-received by the different audiences and raised quite some interest. Probably, the economic evaluation aspects were especially appreciated. In addition, the platform has recently gone through a user testing phase aimed at collecting users’ feedback on how to improve it and make it as fitting as possible to their preferences. Again, users’ opinions and perspective were positive. Together with constructive suggestions for improvement, users mostly appreciated the graphical layout, the functionalities, but also the possibility to integrate the platform’s tools into their routinary organisational process in order to broaden the list of tools they could deploy to address mental health of workers.