by Mathias Schroijen, ReMo Science Communications Manager

Researcher Mental Health Observatory (ReMO)

The Researcher Mental Health Observatory (ReMO) COST Action (European Cooperation in Science and Technology), is a coordinated and evidence-based international networking action, aimed at promoting mental health skills and wellbeing within academia. At the moment of writing, the consortium already includes 29 member countries and 100+ leading researchers and practitioners. ReMO is a four year action that will build an Evidence Hub (E-HUB), a Training and Dialogue Network (TDN) and dissemination platform for institutional policy and best practice guidelines. Crucial to ReMO’s mission is its capacity in bringing together stakeholders from academia, practitioners, private sector, civil society, higher education management and researchers to actively and efficiently exchange input on experienced challenges, best and worst practices, knowledge gaps and needs.

ReMO is unprecedented because of the involvement of multiple level stakeholders and the creation of an international E-HUB (as a web-based database). At present, there is no such tool available for researchers, practitioners and policymakers. In addition, ReMO uses a dynamic interaction cycle that consists of four key elements: (1) multi-stakeholder dialogue based on evidence and data (e.g. meetings, workshops and conferences), leading to increased interdisciplinary and international collaborations, (2) education (e.g. working groups and summer schools), establishing a common language, knowledge and discourse with a special focus on ECR needs and organisational bottlenecks, (3) matching between stakeholders and scientists based on their domain specific knowledge and experience,methods and available data (e.g. through working group involvement) and (4) evidence creation, enriching the content already available in the E-HUB. The Interaction Cycle and the E-HUB will be maintained after the lifetime of the action. As a result, ReMO will create the institutional links to promote knowledge and facilitate best practices exchange between countries. In addition, ReMO will train a network of ambassadors for mental health and wellbeing, who will offer a mental health support network for early-career researchers (ECRs) and will stimulate science-practice exchange, fostering co-development of knowledge, skills and output co-creation in the area of researcher wellbeing and mental health.

Unique to ReMO’s threefold approach is the multilevel perspective (research, practitioner, research management and policy decision making), not only focused on problems and problem generating mechanisms but also on positive organisational behaviour in support of meaningful, sustainable work both in terms of performance and wellbeing. The E-HUB is expected to be a reference network of scientific experts, practitioners, research managers and funders, constituting an international ‘go-to’ platform for policymakers and organisations alike. ReMO’s strategy includes diverse methods with feedback loops between theory and practice (e.g online working group discussions around E-HUB content). The multilevel perspective and theory-to-practice feedback loops will allow stakeholders to (a) situate the role of current practices and (b) navigate potential institutional or financial barriers to policy change. The added value of ReMO’s network is the systemic involvement of different stakeholder groups and key organisations with a strong local embeddedness.

Through the project, knowledge on the determinants of mental health issues will not only be better understood but also the community will be supported by a toolkit of evidence-based practices to assess the quality of mental health interventions. ReMO will be one of the first initiatives to (a) bring together and strengthen the growing research on wellbeing and mental health in academia and (b) translate evidence in practical solutions and interventions on the EU level for individual researchers with mental health problems. Optimising wellbeing and mental health amongst academic ranks (from students to teaching and research staff) will positively impact teaching and mentoring performance, retain talent and reduce time lost to presenteeism and absenteeism. In addition, such actions will offer students and staff members an additional parameter to differentiate between institutions. ReMO will therefore significantly contribute to the progress of science and research across Europe and beyond, with significant spillover effects into employees’ private lives.