The move follows recent research from the CIPD that found less than one in three organisations (32%) train line managers to support their direct reports with poor mental health. It also found that mental ill health is now the primary cause of long-term sickness absence for more than one in five (22%) UK organisations.
A recent Mind survey of more than 44,000 employees also found that only two in five (42%) felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health.
The free guide will give managers the information, resources and tools they need to effectively and confidently support employee mental health at work, the CIPD said. Research has shown that spotting the warning signs of poor mental health and offering support at an early stage can have a significant impact.
Where managers are able to spot the warning signs of poor mental health among employees the level of reported common mental health conditions is significantly lower, the CIPD stated.
The new guide follows the government’s Thriving at work employment review, which was published in 2017. The review found a need for employers to reassess their disclosure processes and called for them to create an open culture where employees feel they can discuss their mental health. It added that equipping line managers with the tools to start conversations about mental health is crucial.
Rachel Suff, senior employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said that the stigma surrounding mental illness is having a detrimental effect on both organisations and employees.
“Mental health is still the elephant in the room in most workplaces, and a culture of silence can have a damaging impact on a business as well as individuals. This can include an escalation of someone’s condition as well as higher levels of sickness absence, presenteeism, turnover, conflict, and disengagement. There’s also the risk of potential legal action from employees who feel discriminated against," she said.
She added that training for line managers is vital, as they are often the first point of contact for employees experiencing problems.
“The role of line managers in employee wellbeing is vital. They are often the first port of call for someone needing help, and are most likely to see warning signs of poor mental health among employees. With the right capabilities and tools in place they will have the ability and confidence to have sensitive conversations, intervene when needed, and signpost to the right support when needed.
“The positive impact that this can have on people’s wellbeing is enormous, but the business will also reap the benefits of happier, healthier, more engaged and productive employees.”
Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, emphasised that issues with mental ill health at work are common and widespread.
“Our research finds that almost one in two workers reported they had experienced poor mental health – such as stress, low mood, and anxiety – while working at their current organisation. Given how much of our lives are spent at work, and how common poor mental health is, it’s really important that our employers and managers take an active role in helping us keep well and supporting us when we need it.
While wellbeing is becoming a priority for more employers, Mamo said discrimination is still common. “Employers are increasingly taking steps to promote good wellbeing at work. But we know that too often employees still don’t feel able to talk about issues such as stress, anxiety or depression, fearing they’ll be discriminated against or overlooked for promotion.”
Managers may be reluctant to talk about mental health but staying silent can make the situation worse, Mamo stated.
“Managers often shy away from the subject; worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. But staying silent and doing nothing can make things worse. We’ve long been calling on employers to create an open culture and remove the stigma surrounding mental health. We hope this improved guide will encourage managers to start honest conversations with employees when they need extra support,” she said.