Mentoring can reduce anxiety, study finds

University of Cambridge | September 2018 | Mentoring can reduce anxiety, study finds

Mentoring programmes may help to reduce anxiety, reports a study from the University of Cambridge, which involved researchers from the Oxford University and a Chief Inspector from a Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

The research involved an English police force, a sector selected to study  its mentoring programme which was rolled out in 43 territory-based police forces in England and Wales from 2013. The researchers wanted to explore if mentoring could  reduce anxiety in occupations that play important social roles, including the medical profession and the military – roles that require mental strength in challenging situations coupled with political pressure to become more efficient (via University of Cambridge).


Although earlier research had suggested that the anxiety of mentees can be lessened through the guidance of more senior mentors; the new study finds that imparting knowledge and experience can also help mentors by making their jobs more rewarding.

Study co-author Dr Thomas Roulet, University Senior Lecturer in Organisation Theory at Cambridge Judge Business School said: “The study suggests that a relatively inexpensive practice such as mentoring can help reduce anxiety among both senior and junior staff, and this could help organisations address the serious and costly workplace issues of anxiety and mental health”

“While the study focused on high-stress roles in the public eye, we believe that the findings may also apply to other occupations that also have anxiety-provoking pressures.” (Source: University of Cambridge)

He also underlined the benefits as the mentorship provided reassurance to the mentors by illuminating that other junior officers also experienced anxiety, whcih Dr Roulet explains helped to normalise “their own experiences. By acknowledging that anxieties are common, both the mentees and mentors in this study appeared to be more comfortable discussing such issues and therefore in developing different coping mechanisms.”


Full reference:  Gill, M. J., Roulet, T. J., & Kerridge, S. P. |2018| Mentoring for mental health: A mixed-method study of the benefits of formal mentoring programmes in the English police force | Journal of Vocational Behavior |


Recent research suggests that mentors can enhance their mentees’ mental health. Yet little is known about the effect of mentoring on the anxieties of the mentors themselves. We hypothesise that mentoring programmes can have a positive impact on both mentees’ and mentors’ mental health. In a multi-method longitudinal study, we explore empirically the effect of a formal mentoring programme in the English police force on senior police officers’ levels of anxiety. In the first step of our study, we conducted a field experiment. This experiment yielded preliminary results that suggest mentors may experience marginally lower levels of anxiety and feel as if their job is more meaningful when they participate in the mentoring programme. As a second step, we qualitatively investigated the subjective experience of the participants to explain and substantiate our findings. 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. We discuss our findings in terms of mentoring theory and consider their practical implications for improving mental health in the workplace


This article is available to Rotherham NHS staff  and can be requested here 



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