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Managers ‘out of their depth’ on mental health

Most managers recognise it’s part of their role to act on mental health (75%) but many don’t know how to. New data released by Mental Health First Aid England reveals a third of managers (33%) feel out of their depth supporting their team with mental health concerns, rising to almost half of managers aged under 25 (45%).

Most managers recognise it’s part of their role to act on mental health (75%) but many don’t know how to. New data released by Mental Health First Aid England reveals a third of managers (33%) feel out of their depth supporting their team with mental health concerns, rising to almost half of managers aged under 25 (45%).

This comes at a time when three-quarters (74%) of managers are concerned about their team’s mental health due to the cost-of-living crisis. Nearly one in four (23%) people with management responsibilities state they are ‘very worried’ about the impact of the squeeze on living standards on employee wellbeing.

What’s more, those at the top are proving to be a roadblock to a positive transformation on mental health and wellbeing. One in four (25%) managers say a change in attitude from senior leadership would help teams to bring their whole self to work.

Managers play a crucial role in creating working environments that allow people to feel seen, heard and valued. Over a quarter (29%) of managers said more support and training from their employer would help them to create a team where everyone feels able to bring their whole selves to work.

Ahead of My Whole Self Day on Tuesday 14 March 2023, MHFA England is calling on employers to create environments where everyone is safe to bring their whole self to work. By bringing together diversity and inclusion with health and wellbeing employers can drive positive transformation in workplace mental health and performance.

MHFA England has developed free resources – from activities and panel discussions to My Whole Selfies – so organisations can join the campaign for workplace culture change, and take part in My Whole Self Day and beyond.

Ensuring managers have the training, time and tools they need to support their teams will give people and businesses the ingredients to thrive. On My Whole Self Day, MHFA England will be launching a new Managers’ toolkit to support managers through the employee life cycle.

Simon Blake, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, said:
“Brilliant managers who understand mental health are worth their weight in gold. Their influence can shape a team and workplace, supporting good employee mental health and wellbeing, as well as the organisation’s productivity and performance.

“Research shows that managers have as much impact on a person’s mental health as their partner. With the stakes this high, employers cannot afford not to give the support and training they need to carry out their role effectively.

“Teams are at their most effective and creative when everybody feels psychologically safe and is seen, heard and valued. Empowering managers so that people are able to bring their whole self to work is better for wellbeing and better for business.

“With the threat of recession and the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, a focus on people’s mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever if businesses are to support their people, boost productivity and maintain their bottom line. That is why we are encouraging all employers to access our free resources and get behind My Whole Self Day on Tuesday 14 March.”

Ford Motor Company is one of many employers that supports MHFA England’s My Whole Self campaign. Mark Wilson, Mental Health and Wellbeing Manager at Ford Motor Company, said:

We believe that MHFA England’s campaign for workplace culture change builds on our culture of respect and collaboration by encouraging us all to bring our whole self to work, to support our own and others’ wellbeing.

“Within Ford we see My Whole Self as a powerful tool to get people to open about who they are and the journey they have been on. We are all on a different journey through life and embracing who we are and truly accepting that our feelings and experiences shape, mould and define us is our superpower on that journey. Each year as we support and grow the My Whole Self campaign we grow as a team. This year we are encouraging our leaders to lead by example, to share their life experiences, strengths and vulnerabilities and to embrace and encourage everyone to reflect and talk about their mental health.”

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