New project launched to reduce work stress

Posted on 6 January 2020

A University of York inspirational research leader has launched a new research project EMPOWER: a European platforM to PromOte Wellbeing and HEalth in the workplace together with European collaborators. This is an ambitious project aimed at reducing work stress.

The EMPOWER project started on 1st January 2020 and the University of York is one of the collaborating partners. Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis, Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at HYMS and the Department of Health Sciences, is co-applicant and leads the first work package of the project. She was one of the inspirational research leaders appointed at the University of York in 2018.

Christina, together with her team in the Mental Health and Addiction Group (MHARG); the European partners; and key stakeholders, will devise the intervention that aims to diminish work-stress and to prevent work-related mental disorders in the workplace. She will address several factors, such as stigma, workplace conditions and psychosocial factors, stress, common mental health symptoms, and comorbidity. Awareness, early detection, lifestyle, and return to work after sickness absence, will all be combined in an online modular platform feasible in various workplace settings. EMPOWER will implement this intervention through a randomized controlled trial amongst employees and employers of small and medium-sized enterprises and public agencies from three European countries.

EMPOWER, funded with € 3.99M by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, and led by the Spanish partner in Barcelona, is a multidisciplinary research and innovation effort. It envisions improving workplace conditions and employee mental health and well-being at the workplace. The main outcomes of EMPOWER will help employees, employers and policymakers in decision processes in new legal and contractual developments at EU and a national level in the new economic era.

Christina says: “I am delighted that we were able to pull off this collaborative effort, together with European partners, especially in the Brexit era. We need continued collaborative efforts like this and we need a systemic effort which we will aim to accomplish here, to battle work stress. I am looking forward to undertaking this research, together with my team, and to see the results. EMPOWER will benefit many people, employees, employers, policymakers and other stakeholders."

Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis will discuss this and other matters related to work stress during her inaugural lecture 'Stressed out? Stress, work stress and physical symptoms' on Thursday 13 February, 7pm at the Ron Cooke Hub, Campus East, University of York, YO10 5GE. This lecture, chaired by Professor Una MacLeod, Dean of HYMS, is open to the public and all are welcome welcome to attend. Please register to attend.