Managers not equipped to manage mental health

CMI research shows nearly half of managers have never received training on managing mental health in the workplace. Less than a third have received training in the last twelve months

On Time to Talk day, a CMI survey of nearly 950 managers in the UK found that less than a third of managers (30%) have been trained in managing mental health in the workplace in the last year. More worryingly half of managers (49%) have never received any training on managing mental health problems and 20% had received training but more than a year ago.

At the same time, over half (51%) of managers reported that they have had a member of staff disclose a mental health problem. Reported mental health problems include common problems such as stress, anxiety and depression as well as rarer problems such as bipolar, eating problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In context, this means that over three fifths (62%) of managers who have had a member of their team disclose a mental health problem to them have either never received any training, or received it over 12 months ago.

The survey also found:

  • 51% of senior managers have never received training on managing mental health in the workplace, compared to 44% of junior managers;
  • 52% of older managers (over 50) have never received training, compared to 42% of younger managers(18-29); and
  • 52% of male managers have never received training, compared to 42% of female managers.

Some managers surveyed have been proactive in addressing these training challenges. Jo Humphrey, a manager from St John’s Hospice, was part of a cohort of managers who identified a training need around supporting mental health in the workforce.

Mental health is a growing problem amongst staff and as such will increasingly become part of a manager’s remit. Training has improved and enhanced my existing knowledge and confidence to support staff through difficult periods.

Jo Humphrey, manager from St John’s Hospice

This year’s Time to Talk Day is all about bringing together the right ingredients, to have a conversation about mental health. On Time to Talk Day 2019, CMI is calling on all managers to get talking about mental health. This includes talking to employers about training so that managers feel equipped and empowered to have a conversation with their teams about mental health.

CMI’s CEO Ann Francke said it was time for all employers and managers to show leadership:

Given the vital importance of maintaining mental health at work, the fact that half of managers have never been trained in this area shows we have a very long way to go to make this a part of essential workplace practice.

CMI research shows that mental health at work is an issue that cannot continue to be ignored, as over 50% of managers have had a mental health problem disclosed to them by colleagues.

Line managers play an absolutely critical role in supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Employers are already required by law to provide training on physical health and safety. It’s time the same requirements applied to mental health.

Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute

- Ends -

Further Information

For further information please contact:

Notes to editors

The Manager's Voice is a survey undertaken by CMI of their practising members. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th November and 4th December 2019 and 940 UK-based members responded. Senior leaders refer to CEOs, Managing Partners, Directors and Senior Managers.

CMI’s 2016 Quality of Working Life report found that improving health and wellbeing in the workplace may need dedicated action across the organisation to change the culture and reshape negative attitudes. CMI recommended:

  • Tackle taboos – Start conversations and provide information that makes it easier to ask for help.
  • Engage managers – managers can have a direct impact on the motivation, engagement and ultimately on the wellbeing levels of the people they work with. They need to be informed and engaged on quality of working life and wellbeing issues. Don’t leave it to HR
  • Understanding personal management styles – Provide management and leadership development that helps managers to reflect on their own behaviours and the impact of their actions.

About CMI

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is the only chartered professional body for management and leaderships, dedicated to improving managers' skills and growing the number of qualified managers.

Our professional management qualifications span GCSE to PhD equivalents, including the unique Chartered Manager award, which increases earning potential and improves workplace performance. We have been registered as an apprentice assessment organisation by the Skills Funding Agency.

CMI has led the way in developing a suite of trailblazing management apprenticeships with a 40-strong group of employers. These start from Level 3 (team leader) and Level 5 (operations manager) through to Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship. The Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship gives employers the option to upskill up to executive and C-suite level. CMI is a Skills Funding Agency-registered apprentice assessment organisation.

We provide employers and individual managers with access to the latest management thinking and with practical online support that helps them to embrace change, create high-performing teams and keep ahead of the curve.

With a member community of more than 157,000 managers and leaders, we promote high standards of ethical practice through our Professional Code of Conduct, and help managers to build their expertise through online networks, regional events and mentoring opportunities.