Brain and red heart mental health

What mental health training do managers need?

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 13-19 May, which is a good opportunity to assess how aware and competent managers are in your workplace.

Addressing mental health issues in the workplace requires a comprehensive approach that includes promoting awareness, reducing stigma, providing access to mental health resources and support, and creating a supportive work environment that prioritises employee wellbeing. Employers can implement strategies such as employee assistance programs (EAPs), mental health training for managers, flexible work arrangements, and promoting work-life balance to support employees' mental health and create a healthier workplace culture.

Managers play a crucial role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. Providing managers with appropriate training equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to recognise signs of mental health issues, offer support, and create a supportive work environment. Here are some key areas of mental health training that managers should receive:

Understanding mental health
Training should cover the basics of common mental health conditions, their symptoms, prevalence, and impact on individuals and the workplace. This helps managers recognise signs of mental health issues in their team members and understand the importance of mental health support in the workplace.

Stigma reduction
Managers should learn about the stigma surrounding mental health and its impact on employees seeking help. Training should focus on reducing stigma and promoting an open and supportive culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns.

Effective communication skills
Managers should be trained in active listening, empathy, and effective communication techniques to engage with employees who may be experiencing mental health challenges. This includes providing a safe space for employees to share their concerns and offering non-judgmental support.

Recognising signs of distress
Managers should be able to recognise signs of distress or changes in behaviour that may indicate a decline in mental health, such as decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, mood changes, or withdrawal from social interactions.

Responding appropriately
Training should cover how to respond appropriately to employees who disclose mental health concerns, including offering support, providing resources, and facilitating access to professional help. Managers should also be aware of confidentiality and privacy considerations when dealing with sensitive information.

Promoting work-life balance
Managers should understand the importance of work-life balance in maintaining good mental health and be able to support employees in achieving a healthy balance between work and personal life. This may involve encouraging employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and avoid excessive overtime.

Crisis management and referral procedures
Managers should be familiar with crisis management protocols and know how to respond in emergencies involving mental health crises, such as suicidal ideation or severe distress. They should also be aware of available mental health resources and referral pathways for employees needing professional support.

Self-care for managers
Lastly, training should emphasise the importance of self-care for managers themselves. Supporting employees' mental health can be emotionally demanding, so managers need to prioritise their own wellbeing to effectively support others.

By providing comprehensive mental health training for managers, organisations can create a supportive work environment where employees feel valued, understood, and empowered to prioritise their mental health. This, in turn, can lead to increased productivity, morale, and retention.

The IOSH Managing Occupational Health and Wellbeing course, brought to you by International Workplace, is a course for supervisors and people managers, exploring the many benefits a well-thought-through and well-planned health and wellbeing programme can bring to the workplace.

This one-day course gives supervisors and managers the tools they need to implement an effective health and wellbeing programme and measure their efforts in the workplace.

International Workplace has also published a series of free downloadable guides around occupational health and wellbeing, including:

Mental Health in the Workplace: A Line Manager’s Guide  

Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Line Manager’s Guide 

Stress in the Workplace: A Line Manager’s Guide