WORK

How can managers support their team’s mental health?

Emily Whitton
By Emily Whitton,
updated on Feb 16, 2023

New data from Mental Health First Aid England reveals that managers are ‘out of their depth’ when it comes to their team’s mental health. We share some useful tips and resources that can help

Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA England) has revealed that three-quarters of managers are worried about the impact that the rising cost of living is having on their team’s mental wellbeing. Whilst the majority of managers recognise the importance of supporting mental health, one in three feel ‘out of their depth’ when it comes to knowing how. This rises to almost half of managers under the age of 25.

Simon Blake OBE, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England says, “With the threat of recession and the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, a focus on people’s mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever if businesses are to support their people, boost productivity and maintain their bottom line.”

To act on this data, sourced from 2000 working people in management positions, MHFA England is calling for organisations to back their latest “My Whole Self Day” campaign. This is aimed at driving more support for mental health in the workplace - encouraging a culture of collaboration where managers feel confident to talk about mental health and encourage teams to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work.

MHFA England notes that providing managers with the appropriate training and resources will give people - and businesses - the ingredients to thrive. “Brilliant managers who understand mental health are worth their weight in gold”, Simon comments.“Research shows that managers have as much impact on a person’s mental health as their partner. With the stakes this high, employers cannot afford not to give the support and training they need to carry out their role effectively.”


The role of managers in creating inclusive and supportive workplaces

Managers are vital in creating a culture of inclusivity and ensuring every employee feels supported at work. Simon recognises that “the relationship between managers and their team is key for the health and wellbeing of the whole organisation.

“We know teams that feel safe and connected work better together. Our people and teams are at their most effective and creative when everybody feels psychologically safe and is seen, heard, and valued. Good business performance relies on effective management, which includes having compassionate conversations about mental health”, he adds.

“Where people are driven, connected and supported to do and be their best, they fly.”

Tips for managers to support mental health in the workplace

For those who may not know where to begin when it comes to supporting their teams’ mental health, we asked Simon for some tips for driving these conversations. Remember, this doesn’t just have to fall to managers - anyone can spark a conversation around mental health, whether you’re working from home or in the office.

Checking in one-to-one

“I always recommend that managers consider the first question they ask their team members in a one-to-one. They should repeat that same question, or similar, in each subsequent one-to-one. That way, they can keep a check on changes, both positive and negative, and use the answers to form a supportive framework around an employee’s mental health.”

Consider the timing

“It’s important to think about the setting and timings of your one-to-one conversations. These might need to be different each time you have a one-to-one, so do make sure you take this into account. Making sure a person has the time to talk and feels safe to do so is critical if you want them to be able to open up.”

Recognise the signs

“Aside from the conversations themselves, managers also need to be able to spot the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and know how to signpost to other sources of support within the organisation such as MHFAiders®, EAPs, and those outside the organisation, including the GP, charities, and helplines. Our Mental Health Skills for Managers empowers managers to do just that.”

Seek help from senior leaders

“While managers play a vital role, the backing of senior leaders and a whole organisational approach to wellbeing is required to create the culture of care that allows everyone to thrive.”

If you or your business would like to take part in “My Whole Self Day”, you can access a number of free resources on the MHFA England website.


Mental Health First Aid England is a social enterprise, who’s vision is to improve the mental health of the nation by creating societal change so we can all talk freely about mental health and offer and seek support when we need it.

For more information on MHFA England, visit their website mhfaengland.org or email [email protected].

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