Beyond silence: protocol for a randomised parallel-group trial comparing two approaches to workplace mental health education for healthcare employees

Mental illness is a significant and growing problem in Canadian healthcare organisations, leading to tremendous personal, social and financial costs for individuals, their colleagues, their employers and their patients. Early and appropriate intervention is needed, but unfortunately, few workers get the help that they need in a timely way due to barriers related to poor mental health literacy, stigma, and inadequate access to mental health services. Workplace education and training is one promising approach to early identification and support for workers who are struggling. Little is known, however, about what approach is most effective, particularly in the context of healthcare work. The purpose of this study is to compare the impact of a customised, contact-based education approach with standard mental health literacy training on the mental health knowledge, stigmatised beliefs and help-seeking/help-outreach behaviours of healthcare employees. A multi-centre, randomised, two-group parallel group trial design was adopted. Two hundred healthcare employees were randomly assigned to one of two educational interventions: Beyond Silence, a peer-led programme customised to the healthcare workplace, and Mental Health First Aid, a standardised literacy based training programme. Pre, post and 3-month follow-up surveys tracked changes in knowledge (mental health literacy), attitudes towards mental illness, and help-seeking/help-outreach behaviour. An intent-to-treat, repeated measures analysis was conducted to compare changes in the two groups over time in terms of the primary outcome of behaviour change. Linear regression modelling was used to explore the extent to which knowledge, and attitudes predict behaviour change. Qualitative interviews with participants and leaders were also conducted to examine process and implementation of the programmes: This is one of the first experimental studies to compare outcomes of standard mental health literacy training to an intervention with an added anti-stigma component (using best-practices of contact-based education). The authors concluded that the findings from the study will inform recommendations for designing workplace mental health education to promote early intervention for employees with mental health issues in the context of healthcare work.

Authors: Moll S, Patten SB, Stuart H, Kirsh B, MacDermid JC. ;Full Source: BMC Medical Education. 2015 Apr 16;15(1):78. doi: 10.1186/s12909-015-0363-9. ;