Why managers should be given mental health training

by L&D18 May 2016
From Australia to the UK, mental health issues have been an increasingly significant issue in the workforce.

In Australia, more than six million employees take sick leave every year due to mental illness, according to Mental Health First Aid Australia (MHFA).

Moreover, untreated mental health conditions are resulting in $10.9 billion being lost every year due to absenteeism, reduced productivity and compensation claims.

Now, a new survey by MetLife has found that 53% of HR staff in the UK have provided counselling to employees in the past two years.

Interestingly, the number of HR employees who had offered mental health and stress counselling to staff during the past two years was more than double the amount who had to resolve a workplace dispute.

The survey looked at responses from more than 200 HR directors, managers and assistants.

It also found 76% said they were surprised by the personal and private information staff tell them, while 22% said they had provided marriage and relationship counselling to employees.

A further 67% of HR professionals said mental health issues are a major issue in their workplace.

Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said a really important measure is training for line managers so they can understand what mental health means.

“If they are not trained it can be really stressful for them to have those conversations and spot issues,” said Suff.

Meanwhile, Nataly Bovopoulos, Deputy CEO at MHFA, recently told L&D Professional that mental health training leads to improved knowledge of mental illness and confidence to help someone with a mental illness.

It also reduces unhelpful stigmatising attitudes that can prevent people from seeking help early.

“Until recently, MHFA has been embraced in industries like healthcare and the public service in order to train staff who work in 'frontline' roles with people who might be at increased risk of a mental health problem,” said Bovopoulos.

“However, we are now starting to see major employers like Lendlease and the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright adopt MHFA training into their L&D programs and we’re confident more businesses will follow suit.” 

Related stories:

5-step guide to implement mental health training 

Singapore maids trained to be counsellors 


  • by Lambert Speelman 18/05/2016 10:55:13 PM

    When one has not the experience him-/herself, how can they guide one? It is only a theoretical approach as some psychiatrists have done for years. Those who interfeared (and I've seen it with a couple of people) made it only worse. Don't think that one who is not an experienced expert himself is of any use. The HR professionals with their S.M.A.R.T. management and LEAN Management above them are the ones who cause the burden, due with help from the policy of the Governments during the last 50 years and Lady Justice who is wearing blinders.

    I've been guiding people through, goin trough a burn-out with symptoms of Manic-Depression myself. "It’s in the shelter of each other that everything lives" - So I helped colleagues out of their situation, I learned and grew stronger, overcoming! Their joy was my strength. - Looking to Christ, the Author and Perfector of my faith.

    As I did not submit to the established order I received eventually resignation.
    "The Practice is the best Tutor" - A colleague got healed, and my mum has returned home from a hopeless situation. (That is what the experts told me)

    How do those who learn not from their mistakes; who ignore that their managment is ill-treatment and they are unwilling to repent; how do we train them? Give them a broom and a cloth to clean the office!

    Become a servant leader first !! Lay down your life for your family and friends - don't care for the money.

  • by Stephen Crowe 19/05/2016 10:02:49 AM

    I think it's great that workplaces are starting to focus on the mental health of there employees, but we still have a long way to go. One of the problems is that a lot of organisations are only doing awareness training instead of teaching practical skills that can actually make a difference. We can see this from the fact that the problem is still getting worse, the suicide rate in Australia keeps rising (now at almost 8 each day), the number of psychological injury claims is going up...

    At the Mental Health Recovery Institute (www.mhri.com.au) we specialise in teaching manager and leaders the practical skills they can implement to sustainably manage the mental health of their team and to build resilience.

    Don't fall into the trap of just teaching awareness and thinking you've fixed the problem. You need to fully commit to changing the way things are done and make workplace mental health a top priority.