Reducing stigma and equipping managers with skills to have conversations with employees about mental health is likely to facilitate conversations that address concerns about their mental wellbeing, the guideline says.
NICE and Public Health England’s guideline on Mental Wellbeing at Work covers how to create the right conditions to support mental wellbeing at work through an environment and culture of participation, equality, safety and fairness in the workplace based on open communication.
The independent guideline committee, made up of mental health experts, employers, professionals from across the NHS, local authority members, and lay members, recommended when offering mental health training for managers, employers should consider including:
- how to have a conversation about mental wellbeing with an employee
- information about mental wellbeing
- how to identify early warning signs of poor mental wellbeing
- resources on mental wellbeing
- awareness of the stigma associated with poor mental wellbeing
- ongoing monitoring of mental wellbeing in the workplace
The guideline says the training should equip managers with the knowledge, tools, skills and resources to improve awareness of mental wellbeing at work. It should also improve employees’ understanding of and engagement in organisational decisions and the communication between managers and employees.
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.
“Our new guideline has considered issues which were a problem before COVID-19 emerged and new issues which have presented themselves as a result of the pandemic.
“Reducing stigma and equipping managers with skills to have conversations with employees about mental health is likely to facilitate conversations between managers and employees about any concerns about their mental wellbeing. This makes it more likely that managers can support employees with mental health issues.
“Further research is needed in this area, but providing managers with skills to discuss mental wellbeing improves the relationship between manager and employee so that they can identify and reduce work stressors.
“This is a practicable step employers can implement and adopted quickly without a huge amount of investment.”
The committee agreed that it was important that all line managers received training and support. They considered that this was good practice in all industries and all sizes of organisation, and that managers benefit in terms of their mental wellbeing from feeling skilled to perform their line management duties.
A Deloitte report, Mental health and employers | Refreshing the case for investment published in January 2020, estimates that poor mental health among employees costs UK employers £42bn – £45bn each year. This is made up of absence costs of around £7bn, presenteeism coming to work despite poor health and underperforming- costs ranging from about £27bn to £29bn and turnover costs of around £9bn. This is an increase of about 6bn and 16% on the figures in their our 2017 report, driven primarily by a rise in presenteeism.