Why managers should be given mental health training

by NZ Adviser23 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 said 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 learning and development programs and we’re confident more businesses will follow suit.”

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