Managers not equipped to manage mental health

Fri, February 8th, 2019

Research carried out by the Chartered Management Institute

CMI research shows nearly half of managers have never received training on managing mental health in the workplace. Less than a third have received training in the last twelve months.

On Time to Talk day, a CMI survey of nearly 950 managers in the UK found that less than a third of managers (30%) have been trained in managing mental health in the workplace in the last year. More worryingly half of managers (49%) have never received any training on managing mental health problems and 20% had received training but more than a year ago.

At the same time, over half (51%) of managers reported that they have had a member of staff disclose a mental health problem. Reported mental health problems include common problems such as stress, anxiety and depression as well as rarer problems such as bipolar, eating problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In context, this means that over three fifths (62%) of managers who have had a member of their team disclose a mental health problem to them have either never received any training, or received it over 12 months ago.

The survey also found:

  • 51% of senior managers have never received training on managing mental health in the workplace, compared to 44% of junior managers;
  • 52% of older managers (over 50) have never received training, compared to 42% of younger managers(18-29); and
  • 52% of male managers have never received training, compared to 42% of female managers.

Some managers surveyed have been proactive in addressing these training challenges. Jo Humphrey, a manager from St John’s Hospice, was part of a cohort of managers who identified a training need around supporting mental health in the workforce. Jo said:

“Mental health is a growing problem amongst staff and as such will increasingly become part of a manager’s remit. Training has improved and enhanced my existing knowledge and confidence to support staff through difficult periods.”

This year’s Time to Talk Day is all about bringing together the right ingredients, to have a conversation about mental health. On Time to Talk Day 2019, CMI is calling on all managers to get talking about mental health. This includes talking to employers about training so that managers feel equipped and empowered to have a conversation with their teams about mental health.

CMI’s CEO Ann Francke said it was time for all employers and managers to show leadership:

“Given the vital importance of maintaining mental health at work, the fact that half of managers have never been trained in this area shows we have a very long way to go to make this a part of essential workplace practice."

"CMI research shows that mental health at work is an issue that cannot continue to be ignored, as over 50% of managers have had a mental health problem disclosed to them by colleagues."

"Line managers play an absolutely critical role in supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Employers are already required by law to provide training on physical health and safety. It’s time the same requirements applied to mental health”.

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