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February/March 2020 (vol. 16/5)

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Mental health training for line managers

An emerging evidence base


The Rail Safety and Standards Board commissioned the Institute for Employment Studies to carry out research into the training required to enable line managers to support the mental health of their employees. This article presents the main findings and a brief analysis of their implications.

Employers can find themselves overwhelmed by the complexity of managing mental health in the workplace: they are trying to navigate products and services on an evidence base that is still in its infancy. And while there is an increasing awareness of the influence line managers have on the mental wellbeing of their teams, sometimes it feels like line managers are asked to be everything to everyone – a friend, a mentor, and even a therapist. The promotion of effective people management through line managers was highlighted as one of six ‘mental health core standards’ in the government-commissioned Thriving at work review of mental health and employers, by Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer1. The question for businesses, however, is how can they equip their line managers with such skills?

Michelle O’Sullivan is a chartered clinical psychologist at the RSSB; Sally Wilson is a senior research fellow at IES; Alex Martin is a research officer at IES; Megan Edwards is a senior research fellow at IES; and Bridget Juniper is founder and director of Work and Well-being.

Author: O'Sullivan M, Wilson S, Martin A, Edwards M, Juniper B


Occupational Health at Work February/March 2020 (vol. 16/5) pp12-16

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