The science behind our Wellbeing Champions Training

May 18, 2023

Jazz Croft

Science Writer


Organisations wanting to support their people are turning to wellbeing champions training in their droves.

According to ONS data, it’s the only mental health initiative to experience year on year growth. In 2019, a quarter (25%) of organisations used them. Fast-forward to 2022, and now almost half (49%) of all employers are mobilising champions networks. 

On the surface, this is good news. But here’s the problem: there are many training solutions available – but few backed by evidence. So we’re pushing for change with our training using clinical expertise and the latest World Health Organisation guidance to inspire the greatest impact. 

Wellbeing champions signpost their colleagues to mental health resources, advocate for change and support their colleagues. Establishing a network of wellbeing champions can harness the benefits of peer support, shown to promote wellbeing, prevent burnout and increase job satisfaction. With more evidence showing that social isolation is a risk factor for poor health, social support is also a key benefit of a wellbeing champions network. 

How we back champions training with evidence

While research into peer support training is in early stages, there are promising results to support its positive impact on organisations. Clearly this is an area fertile for innovation. 

To start developing our training, our in-house psychologists took a two pronged approach. First building a foundation of evidence-based interventions to help champions succeed. And then  conducting a  scientific evaluation to understand champions networks’ effectiveness over time. 

Make learnings practical 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training is shown to improve attitudes and understanding of mental health. Worryingly, research showing how this translates to action or change for organisations is less clear. 

To make action central to our training, we focussed on the practical application of learnings, and upskilling wellbeing champions to actively listen, signpost to support and apply their knowledge to everyday working life. 

Measure what matters 

While we see some personal improvements from MHFA, organisational impact has not been widely studied. This means we currently don’t have a good understanding of the value of training for organisations. 

Unmind Champions Training addresses this challenge by tracking change in impact, knowledge and confidence. This means we can track meaningful change and optimise training for your people.

Communicate boundaries 

Research also shows that the boundaries of the role of first aider or champion can be ambiguous. Our training makes clear that a wellbeing champion is an advocate for change, not a mental health professional. 

This means champions can focus on their defined responsibilities, and organisations know their people are working within the boundaries of their role. 

Form networks 

Champions don’t work in a vacuum. To make sure they get the most out of their role and feel equipped to deal with any challenges, they need to be part of a fully resourced network supported by the organisation 

We encourage champions to reach out to each other to share ideas and support as well as engaging with their organisations to ensure they’re part of a wider vision to improve wellbeing at work. 

Check in with yourself 

Self-care is also a key part of training. Champions need to be able to manage the responsibilities of the role as well as their own mental health. Our training helps champions reflect on their mental health to make the role a valuable part of self development. 

Continuing the conversation 

With growing interest in mental health and peer support networks within organisations, it’s an exciting time to be part of a movement that empowers employees to become wellbeing champions and advocate for better mental health. 

By measuring the impact of Wellbeing Champions Training and continually evolving our platform, Unmind are contributing insights to share with the wider community to benefit the global workforce. 

We're giving our champioons training away completely free until the end of 2023. Find out more and get the training here.

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