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CWTS participates in new COST ACTION Researcher Mental Health

May 25th, 2020

mental health 2019924 1920Researcher Mental Health (ReMO, CA19117) will focus on wellbeing and mental health within academia, a theme of strategic importance for the European Research Area. Previous research shows that low levels of wellbeing and mental health problems have a negative impact on individual, team and organizational performance, triggering significant costs. In addition, institutional context, organizational structure and culture, as well as managerial practices have significant impact on wellbeing and health of employees. Therefore, general insights on the causes of workplace wellbeing and mental health need to be refined with contextual specifics (i.e. in academia) in order to develop tailored, effective and efficient prevention and action programs.

ReMO wants to address these limitations using a threefold approach: (1) We aim at developing a conceptual framework and tools that are tailored to the academic context taking into account the specifics and challenges of academia and academic work (e.g. performance management of academics, an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees, increasing challenges of dealing with diversity and internationalization, job insecurity, etc.); (2) We take a multilevel perspective on problems and problem generating mechanisms, but also on positive organizational behavior in support of meaningful work and wellbeing; (3) We use a diversity of methods with short feedback loops between theory and practice.

The proposers of ReMO are academics, practitioners, policy makers and consultants for higher education institutions. They represent an international mix of scientific knowledge and practice on researcher mental health and a much needed interdisciplinary (e.g. psychology, sociology, business administration), multilevel (individual, organizational, system) and intercultural perspective. ReMO is supported by 50 participants from 24 COST Country Institutions, 14 of which are inclusiveness target countries. Coordinator is Gábor Kismihók from TIB in Hannover, Germany.

From CWTS, Inge van der Weijden and Ingeborg Meijer will contribute to the establishment of an Evidence Hub (E-Hub) in which researchers, practitioners, research managers and funders, aims to extend the limited evidence base on mental health and wellbeing provision in academia. Activities that we, with other ReMO members, will perform include: a) systematic evaluation of the current mental health situation in the academic sector on country, organizational and individual levels; b) examination of perceived barriers and facilitators to mental health and wellbeing provision, as well as performance enhancement strategies, with respect to cultural, political and institutional differences across the countries; c) development of new collaborative pathways between researchers as a means to increase awareness, knowledge and mutual support around mental health, wellbeing and performance enhancement strategies.

Next to this, Ingeborg Meijer will join the working group ‘system level’. The aim for this group would be to encourage system level actors (e.g. national and European funding agencies) to explore what can be done at a system level to improve mental health. Inge van der Weijden will join the working group ‘Institutional level’, which will be focused on the wellbeing practices in research institutions. In this working group the emphasis will be on the institutional learning to break down barriers and taboos in institutions, including recognising and addressing challenges within their workplace environments. Also she will join the working group on ‘local actors’. In this working group we will promote researcher well-being on a practical level. We will focus on matters such as counselling support, peer-to-peer support, online networks and other tools for mental health, their effectiveness and how they can be practically implemented. Inge will also participating in the Management Committee of ReMO.

Participation in the E-HUB and the three working groups allows CWTS, together with ReMO colleagues, to formulate and disseminate evidence-based, implementable best practice guidelines among the e.g. the universities and research institutes in the Netherlands.

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