Mentoring for mental health: new research by Professor Michael J. Gill

31 Oct 2018

Professor Michael J. Gill

Professor Michael J. Gill (Tutorial Fellow in Management at St Edmund Hall) has co-authored research recently published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour that finds that acting as a mentor to junior colleagues can help reduce the anxiety of the mentor.

The paper, written in collaboration with Thomas J. Roulet (University of Cambridge) and Stephen P. Kerridge (Cambridgeshire Constabulary), notes that mental illness is a serious concern not just for individual employees but also for their employers and wider society, with annual expenditure on healthcare for mental illness reaching up to £14 billion in England alone.

The benefits of mentoring to a mentee have been established by previous studies. However, when the co-authors explored the effects of a formal mentoring programme in a constabulary of the English police force, they found that mentors experienced lower levels of anxiety as well as a sense of greater meaning in their work. “We found that mentoring relationships provide a unique context for mentors to discuss and normalise their concerns, to share ideas for managing anxieties, and to find more meaning in their work,” they noted. “We discuss our findings in terms of mentoring theory and consider their practical implications for improving mental health in the workplace.”

“We have to be careful about generalising,” added Michael. “We think, however, that because senior managers within companies are usually rushed off their feet, their opportunities to interact with junior colleagues become limited. Yet it is precisely these junior colleagues who can benefit the most from such interactions, across many different settings. We suggest that mentors experience their work as more meaningful when they see how junior colleagues benefit and that this may be true in other contexts too.”

You can read the full paper here: Mentoring for mental health: A mixed-method study of the benefits of formal mentoring programmes in the English police force.

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