Flexibility With Infidelity – The Demise of Low Intensity Interventions In Practise

There has been no independent investigation of the effectiveness of NHS Talking Therapies low intensity interventions (the services most common form of delivery). But a review by Fleming (2023) of how employers cater for staff’s emotional wellbeing, including: coaching resilience training, Employee Assistance Programmes, mindfulness, counselling, stress management programmes has shown that they conferred no added value. There is no reason to believe NHS Talking Therapies low intensity interventions would fare any better.

It could be argued that the workplace interventions are about changing the worker not the workplace. There was no evidence that participants in individual-level mental health well-being interventions at work had higher well-being than those who did not. The only exception was volunteering.

Fleming (2023) concludes his paper thus ‘By evaluating these types of initiatives out of research context, implemented in the messy realities of organisational life, any benefits appear to be smaller. Such discrepancies emphasise the need for policy recommendations to evaluate evidence of workplace well‐being initiatives in situ as well as ‘in vitro’. Fleming observes that whilst there is evidence in the abstract(rcts) for the effectiveness of some of the strategies these dissipate in the real-world .Exactly the same could be said about NHS Talking Therapies low intensity interventions. 

The above findings also send a warning that the Labour Party’s (Wes Street) proposal to recruit 8.5K staff to provide mental health services in every school may be doomed  if they simply follow the public mantra on resilience training and mindfulness. The latter appear to have made no difference in the occupational context why should they fare any better in an educational? 

Dr Mike Scott