Mental Health Needs of Call Centre Staff. A Multi-Method Investigation
Call centre staff experience high levels of stress and associated poor mental health. The aim of this research was to develop an in-depth understanding of the mental health needs of staff in a call centre using a multi-method approach, underpinned by the DRIVE model of workplace stress and health. Study 1 was a longitudinal questionnaire-based study of mental health and its predictors. Results partially supported the DRIVE model, finding that individual differences strongly predicted mental health both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, suggesting that individual-level interventions may be beneficial. The impact of job demands and resources on mental health was less clear, with inconsistent results across time points. Study 2 explored the effect of demands and resources in more depth using daily diaries and interviews and found that high daily demands and low resources predicted poorer mental health-related outcomes in all staff. Commonly reported demands included the pace of work and lack of breaks, difficult customers and performance targets, while commonly reported resources included colleague and manager support. These findings imply that primary interventions to address demands and resources may be useful to all staff and could be tailored to workplace-specific demands and resources. Study 3 explored the physical health correlates of mental health outcomes. No significant correlations were found between physical and mental health in the call centre, suggesting that no physical health outcomes need to be addressed as standard when developing mental health support. Study 4 evaluated the existing support offered by the call centre.
While a range of support services and facilities were available, low levels of awareness, the location of services and a lack of organisational support were barriers to their access. Support could be improved by increasing the effectiveness of communication strategies and accessibility of services and developing an organisational culture that is supportive of mental health