Managers Need More Help to Support Staff Mental Wellbeing

Ellen Lees
By Ellen Lees,
updated on Mar 19, 2019

Managers Need More Help to Support Staff Mental Wellbeing

A survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and Management Today reveals that six in 10 managers feel ill-equipped to support the mental wellbeing of their staff

Only 31% of line managers polled by IOSH considered themselves sufficiently trained to recognise the signs of mental ill health in their employees, indicating that more training needs to be done to tackle mental health in the workplace. This can also indicate that organisations need to be more proactive in dealing with an issue that contributes to increased employee absence and lost productivity.

400 employees and managers were polled as part of the research. To get a clearer picture of what is being done in the workplace to support employee mental health, respondents came from a number of businesses across the UK. IOSH and Management Today decided to carry out the research by splitting respondents into two groups; one group of managers who have employees reporting directly to them, another group comprising of managers with no direct reports.

Of the 400, 57% said that their organisation offers no mental health and wellbeing training or support for line managers. Of those that were offered such training, 79% said it was optional.

Duncan Spencer, Head of Advice and Practice at IOSH said: “Line managers are vital in creating workplaces that are positive for people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“We know work is only one factor in someone’s mental health but working for an organisation that’s serious about creating a work culture that doesn’t cause issues such as stress and anxiety can make such a difference.

“What the survey findings tell us is that there’s still much to be done in convincing businesses they need a ‘prevention first’ approach to managing mental health and wellbeing.”

In the survey, 80% of employees reported worrying about their colleagues’ reactions, or being seen as incapable in their role if they were to highlight any mental health concerns.

30% said that they worry that speaking out about their mental health issues would result in colleagues treating them differently, with one respondent commenting that they had hidden their struggles for “fear of being stigmatised”.

However, 25% of employees reported feeling more comfortable discussing their own mental health with their colleagues than their manager.

“Businesses need to be working hard to break down the taboos surrounding mental health and creating more open lines of communication,” said Spencer.

“They need to be supporting their managers to fulfil their role by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to promote positive mental health, but without placing unrealistic expectations on them. In return they will reap the rewards of happier, healthier, more engaged and productive employees.”

IOSH argues that is it essential that organisations understand how to identify and manage the signs of mental ill health. Employers should understand what the causes may be and how to deal with potential crisis situations, as well as how to advise on where staff can access further support if they need it.

Mental Health First Aid

It’s easy to say that change needs to happen, but what can employers do to ensure their staff are sufficiently trained and know how to support fellow colleagues?

Mental Health First Aid is a form of training provided by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. It aims to equip employers with the tools needed to support each other, understand the vast array of conditions, causes and symptoms that may affect us, teaching us how to cope with crisis situations. Simply put, MHFA training is the mental counterpart to physical first aid training.

There are a number of courses available designed to suit all needs. There is a half-day course, one-day and two-day, as well as the full instructor training.

If you’re interested, you can read our article on MHFA training or see our upcoming training courses.

Read the full IOSH report.

Read our article, Reporting a Mental Health Issue at Work.

If you are worried about your mental health, Counselling Directory can help. Search for therapists in your area by entering your location in the box below.

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