Manager training plan

In order to be a humane employer, you need to make sure managers are given sufficient training to spot, discuss and help address poor mental health in their teams.

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Get our Mental Health Support Procedure for Managers

(We'll email you a Google Docs version of the procedure, and sign you up to the Spill newsletter too — but you can unsubscribe if that's not your thing.)

"If I only had a small amount of money to spend ... I would train my managers in people training"

— Dame Carol Black, Expert Advisor of Health and Work to Public Health England

Managers need a mix of one-off and recurrent training and support opportunities in order to be effective at addressing poor mental health.

Managers need an understanding of how to spot the signs of poor mental health in others

This is about making sure you have trained certain people in your organisation to be able to help employees who experience poor mental health. Invariably this doesn't mean trying to 'fix' the employee — this should never be the goal — but instead is about having the skills to hold a space for them to open up in, to listen actively and non-judgmentally, and to signpost them towards services  qualified to provide more thorough support.

There are a few providers that offer really useful training of this kind:

  • Mental Health First Aid. 2 days. £450. Online. Gives you the confidence to step in, reassure and initially support a person in distress, and the knowledge to guide them to the further support needed to help them make a full recovery.
  • Mental health in the workplace: skills for managers (by ACAS). 1 day. £255. In person or online. The programme covers common mental health conditions and their symptoms, how to spot poor mental health and how to engage in initial conversations.
  • Mental health awareness at work (by Mind). Various e-learning modules that managers can complete asynchronously. Enquire for cost. The modules go over various topics including the potential triggers of poor mental health, common mental health problems, stigma and how to address it, and the role managers need to play in supporting their team's mental health.

Managers need to know what to do when a report is experiencing poor mental health

Once you've filled out the mental health support procedure template from the previous page of this guide (see below), it's important to make sure that all managers have been taken through how to use the procedure.

This doesn't need to be a formal training session that you put on: it could be a quick group walkthrough over a video call, an individual discussion in a one-to-one, or if your company is embracing asynchronous life you could make a Loom and message people a few follow-up questions to check they've understood everything.

Get a copy of this Mental Health Support Procedure as a
Google doc here that you can duplicate and edit

Managers need the knowledge to help their employees avoid poor mental wellbeing on an ongoing basis

  • Watch the recording of Spill's 'How to avoid burnout' talk (60min). This session delves into the deeper reasons behind burnout — spoiler alert: it's more complicated than just working too much! — and ends with a raft of practical ideas for managers and leaders to put in place for their teams that help to burnout-proof the company culture.
  • Watch the recording of Spill's 'How to be a more emotionally intelligent manager' talk (60min). This talk looks at how managers (or anyone who takes on significant emotional labour at work) can better support and engage their reports, engaging with them as whole people with feelings. The talk ends with tangible actions to take forward.
  • Go through the slides from Spill's 'Boundaries' training. Part of the responsibility on managers is to help employees help themselves. Setting clear boundaries can help improve people's sense of control and autonomy, improve their wellbeing, and reduce the chances that frustration and resentment will build up over time.

Managers need a place to go for ongoing support and guidance when faced with challenging situations

  • Attend a Spill manager drop-in session (up to 6 attendees only, 45min). Manager drop-in sessions are a 45min space to bring any people-related challenges and talk them through with one of Spill's therapists specialising in people management. It's a great space in which to bring a challenging interpersonal situation or anything that you need some qualified guidance on — especially if it falls outside the remit of conventional procedures and training. These sessions are free for anyone to attend over the next few months while we trial them.
  • Go to individual therapy or coaching. When therapists are in training, they are required to also have therapy themselves. Why? Because taking on the emotional labour of listening to other people's thoughts, feelings and problems is draining. It's the same with people managers: as well as training in how to deal with issues, it's also important for them to have a space in which they can vent, be heard, and get some guidance.


Get our Mental Health Support Procedure for Managers

(We'll email you a Google Docs version of the procedure, and sign you up to the Spill newsletter too — but you can unsubscribe if that's not your thing.)

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