Written by Claire Bennett.

A recent publication of best practice guidelines from Public Health England and NICE suggest that employers should be focused on Mental Wellbeing in the workplace and the most effective way of doing this is by focusing on your managers. Managers have the power to drive culture in the workplace and can also be a key figure in detecting early signs of poor mental health and supporting people in their teams. They directly impact how those who work in their teams feel about the company.

Here are 4 key areas for businesses to consider when looking at how to support their line managers to manage mental health in the workplace.

1. Open Culture

It’s important for your organisations to create a culture of participation, equality, safety and fairness. This can be achieved with processes, policies and open and clear communication. Steps should be taken to ensure that this is felt throughout the organisation at all levels. Your line managers are an integral part of this approach. Many individuals view a business through the actions of their line manager who has a direct impact on their working life. This kind of culture starts at the top and should have measures and supports in place to ensure that all layers within a business behave in the same way.

2. Clear Policies

Your line managers need to understand where you as an organisation stand when it comes to supporting and managing mental health and wellbeing in your organisation. They need clear guidelines and policies to follow so that they are protecting their teams, themselves and your organisation. Policies and how to follow and execute them in the workplace should be trained as part of your line manager training package. There should be clear signposting to mental health support, either within the organisation or local community.

3. Communication

Organisations should talk about health and wellbeing, including mental health, openly and regularly. Measures should be in place to monitor health and wellbeing in the workplace and results should be shared both internally and externally. Your line managers should have a good understanding of these measures and can share the information and next steps within their teams.

4. Training and Education

Many people will avoid having a mental health discussion, especially in the workplace with a colleague. The overwhelming feedback as to why is that, is that people do not feel confident to open up the conversation and how they can help. In many cases, people are concerned about making things worse.

With this in mind, businesses need to ensure that sufficient training is put in place to enable line managers to have mental health conversations. The training should include a number of key skills, such as:

  • Understand mental health and its impact on us all.
  • How to manage stress in the workplace.
  • How to identify if someone is experiencing difficulties with their mental health.
  • How to have a mental health discussion.
  • How to support and encourage someone to see appropriate help & support.

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of NICE’s centre for guidelines, said “Even before the pandemic, the state of the nation’s mental health has been a topic of conversation at home, in the workplace and in the media. Reducing stigma and equipping managers with skills to have conversations with employees about mental health is likely to facilitate conversations between managers and employees with any concerns about their mental wellbeing. This makes it more likely that managers can support employees with mental health issues with early intervention.”

We spend a large proportion of our time at our place of work, for us to be the best we can be and for businesses to protect their most valuable assets, their employees. Investment in line managers is the best way to tackle the mental health crisis that we find ourselves in, in the UK.

If you’re interested in giving your managers the skills they need to support your staff, New Leaf Health can help.

Our Managing Mental Health Course has given thousands of managers in organisations across the UK the skills they need to have difficult conversations in a safe and supportive way. Click here to take a look at the course, or get in touch with us for an informal chat about your requirements. Email enquiries@newleafhealth.co.uk or call the team on 01384 877 855.