Re-empowering managers to talk about mental health

Re-empowering managers to talk about mental health

Posted by Amanda Furness


On the 13th March this year, we were delighted to start delivering a series of Adult Mental Health First Aid training courses for Network Rail.  As an employer, they had identified that although programmes were in place to support post-event recovery and self-resilience for employees on the London North Western (LNW) Route, there was no training available to help line managers responsible for employees who may have mental ill-health.

The training is being conducted in local depots from Carlisle to London and will be rolled out over an 18-month period during which time almost 300 line managers will benefit from the course.  It certainly seems to have been welcomed by those who have attended the training to date.  HR Project Leader for LNW North advised, “Brilliant feedback from session in Liverpool. Apparently, the line managers keep talking about it – which is what we want!

The 2-day training course is designed to give a deeper understanding of the issues which impact on, and relate to, an individual’s mental health.  It also teaches practical skills to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and boosts managers’ confidence to guide employees towards appropriate support.

The training aims to benefit employees, managers and the LNW Route by:

  • Raising awareness of mental health and mental health literacy
  • Reducing the stigma of mental health by developing a deeper understanding of mental ill-health
  • Encouraging conversations to take place sooner to help employees receive support and enable recovery
  • Developing manager’s listening skills
  • Understanding the impact that managing mental health issues can have and helping managers to focus on their self-care and personal resilience

The training is being delivered by Christine Clark who is passionate about working with organisations to raise mental health awareness.  Christine has received national and international recognition from Mental Health First Aid England and Livingworks Canada for her work in supporting organisations to apply a first aid approach to both mental and physical wellbeing.

When reflecting on the training so far Christine commented,

“I’ve been very inspired by the enthusiasm of individual managers who have really clear ideas about what they want to do going forward with their team. The beauty of this work is that it spreads organically after every session.  Of course, I can’t teach everything relating to mental health but I can give them knowledge to build on and enthusiasm to want to know more. Currently most of us are disempowered around mental health, we hesitate and don’t follow our natural reaction if someone appears upset, thinking we are not qualified.  My role is to re-empower them to ask the question ‘Do you want to talk about it?’.  Help managers to direct people on a personal pathway to care and Network Rail have a lot of resources internally which they can signpost people to.”

As an ongoing programme, we’re monitoring the delegate feedback closely to ensure it continues to meet its goals and be a success for all. To date, we’ve been greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm and engagement of participants and are working hard to ensure this continues as we work across the LNW Route.

“Excellent course. Can well recommend this! Will ensure my book is continually used.”
“Very informative and knowledgeable Instructor; well worth attending.”
“Excellent 2 days. Put a lot of things into place for me.”

For more information about our Mental Health First Aid Training, please complete this form.