Mental Perspective

(R) Researcher

Anne Coufopoulos

Associate Dean (Enterprise & Innovation), Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Coventry University

(R) Researcher

Caroline Meyer

Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Warwick

(R) Researcher

Lukasz Walasek

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Warwick

(R) Researcher

Guy Daly

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students), Coventry University

(R) Researcher

Sean Russell

Wellbeing Director, West Midlands Combined Authority

Read the research

How important is supporting mental health in the workplace, for employees and for productivity?

The Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) is a study looking at the importance of supporting and improving mental health in the workplace across the Midlands. The programme’s aims are to break down the barriers people may have accessing mental health care, whilst also increasing productivity in companies.

Using the MHPP’s data, Artist Sherrie Edgar wrote a poem and recorded a film of a dance, depicting the meaning and impact of the pilot.

A research film about MHPP by Sherrie Edgar.

Sherrie explores the findings from a large-scale survey commissioned by the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot and conducted by the Enterprise Research Centre.  Despite the potential hit to companies’ bottom line, less than half of firms offer proactive support for mental health and many are unsure where to turn for advice. This research film looks at the key people that are involved in this crucial work and discusses our post-COVID ‘new normal’ with more remote working could exacerbate productivity-sapping mental health problems among employees.

Here are some findings from the MHPP:

  • 41% of establishments reported at least some long-term (more than 4 weeks) sickness absence in the last year.
  • 31% reported mental health sickness absence. Regression analysis shows this is more likely in larger establishments and in multi-site establishments;
  • 33% reported presenteeism. Bivariate analysis shows this is more prevalent in Hospitality and Business Services;
  • Employers are most likely to cite issues outside of work as a cause of poor mental health, rather than issues in work.
  • However, during the qualitative research, in-work factors which emerged as contributing to episodes of mental ill-health included:
  • Lone working or remote working;
  • Client expectations on time, quality and cost;
  • Job insecurity;
  • Recruitment practices.

55% of those reporting mental health sickness absence reported an impact on firm performance

  • Experiencing long-term sickness is associated with productivity which is lower by 27.2 per cent;
  • Sickness related to mental health is associated with productivity which is lower by 18.3 per cent;
  • Firms reporting a situation in which mental health impacted their performance was associated with productivity which is lower by 24.5 per cent.
  • These are significant associations between productivity and long-term and mental health sickness absence, but our research suggests these costs may not be known to many employers, as they do not measure.
  • 44% of establishments provided some form of proactive support to their employees in terms of mental health, and 48% of these had provided training to line managers. Larger establishments are more likely to do so.
  • Of all firms, just over a fifth (22%) had a mental health plan; 35% had a health and well-being lead at senior or Board level and 40% used data to monitor employee health and well-being.

Almost two-thirds of firms said they would like to provide more mental health and well-being support to their staff (64%)

Visit for more information.

(A) Artist

Sherrie Edgar

Contemporary audio-visual artist Sherrie Edgar uses experimental methods to create interactive and emotive pieces. Specialising in film and photography, capturing loneliness as a primary theme, developing from alienation to power loneliness in the arts.

Visit Sherrie’s YouTube channel here for more, or find more work on Axis here.

A permission to live
All is equal
My role, life rolls
Personal Professional
Work-Family, Family Work
Allow, permit, allocate
My Bond, Your Bond, Bonds
Time to receive, reduce negative, increase positive
What requires empowerment?
It’s too intense, overworked, under appreciated
Portable, transferable, hot desk, virtual isolation
Identify True Self, Interact, Sense
(Breath in and Out)

Download the full poem

Poem Work Productivity by Sherrie Edgar

(pdf 39.33 KB)


A digital exhibition of artworks created during lockdown and inspired by university research. Amongst these 18 artistic responses to research, you’ll discover poetry about Coventry, Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matters movement. Find stories about what Coventry means to refugees, and learn about Coventry’s twinning history, women’s suffrage and how interactive games can help break down the complexities of homelessness. Hear the words of healthcare workers during the first peak of Coronavirus, and explore creative connections forged by ‘The Artist and the Prof’.

Coventry Creates is part of the ongoing work by Coventry and Warwick universities in the lead up to the City of Culture. The University Partnership has funded over 30 creative research projects, involving over 50 Coventry organisations and local communities.


More information about Coventry Creates