Recommendations from an Evaluation of Mental Health Awareness Training

Recommendations from an Evaluation of Mental Health Awareness Training

Posted by Jan Lawrence

CIPD Resource: A New Approach to Line Manager Mental Well-being Training in Banks

In this blog we have quoted content from the above article, a link to which is provided at the end of this post.

Although we were not involved in the training mentioned, there are many parallels with the work we do.  The feedback from our own Mental Health Awareness training has very similar themes, so we thought we would highlight some of the points we felt were relevant from the article and link how we believe our mental health awareness courses fit with these recommendations.

A common feature of our post course evaluations is that line managers simply feel more confident in supporting colleagues who are experiencing mental health problems.  The article states that “Managers are more skilled at noticing signs of of poor mental health, and are more confident in supporting their direct reports who are experiencing mental health problems” following their training.

One of the aims of our training is in line with the results found in this report: “Organisational attitudes to mental health problems are improving with people being more comfortable having conversations about mental health in the workplace.”

The report highlighted that improving the manager’s ability to tackle poor mental health has the knock on effect of improving employees’ perceptions about their work, views about the organisation, as well as their own mental health.

How In Equilibrium Training meets the Report Recommendations:

The following are quotes from the report and how they compare with our approach:

“Delivery of the face-to face training by an expert and ability to discuss real-life scenarios illustrating how to address poor mental health in the workplace “  All our courses are run by experts in mental health and we believe that discussing real life scenarios, which  delegates can relate to, brings the subject closer to home and thereby makes it easier to conceptualise.

“Practical information incorporated in face-to-face and online elements of the course” We would agree that practicality is so important and include exercises and scenarios to illustrate the challenges those with mental health problems regularly face in the workplace.  On our course for all employees we include practical strategies to support team members and colleagues, whilst on our managers course we offer practical solutions they can implement.  Both courses offer advice on how to hold conversations with people experiencing poor mental health.

“Bespoke elements focusing on organisation-specific policies and support pathways delivered as part of the training”  If it is at all possible, training which can signpost relevant and up to date policies and support pathways could make the difference for a manager.  After creating awareness, knowing what action to take is the next step, followed by being confident in the current means of support. Our courses can be be tailor made and our trainers work with the customer to make the course specific to their organisation.

Recommendation 1 – Encourage peer-to-peer learning through mental health ‘champions’ and lesson-sharing

This can happen on the training day, as the trainer/facilitator summarises the points being discussed and people share their best practice.  The organisation can also put systems in place to make sure that this is an ongoing sharing of knowledge which all attendees and other managers/employees who didn’t attend the training, can benefit from.

“Line managers recommend that the programme should include a greater element of peer-to-peer learning, by creating opportunities to share best practice.”

“There was strong consensus that the face-to-face sessions of the pilot provided a unique opportunity to explore and discuss mental health issues  with colleagues.”

Again this is something we have found.  The wealth of information which can materialise in a facilitated discussion is astounding – organisations need to make sure that there are opportunities for this information to be discussed and shared in order that this knowledge is not left in pockets.

Recommendation 2 – Widen participation across the banks

It was clear from the evaluations that line managers were experiencing positive change in their awareness of mental health issues in the workplace and their ability to deal with poor mental health as a result of the training pilot.  Widening the offering to the rest of the organisation would provide the same standard of mental health management across the organisation. We often work with organisations who train managers and then roll the training out to all employees.

Recommendation 3 – Update course format based on employees’ experiences

The report found that several aspects of the e-learning could be improved.  Rather than presenting a blend of on-line and face-to-face learning, it is our experience that offering face-to-face training followed up with post course emails and refresher courses embeds the learning for our delegates.

Recommendation 4 – Adapt content to help raise awareness of mental health issues among employees without managerial responsibilities

This would improve the awareness of mental health issues and ability to cope with mental health problems, not just amongst line managers, but their teams as well.

The Report’s Final remarks

This evaluation draws attention to the importance of interventions aimed at improving mental health management in the financial services environment, particularly through the training of line managers who are often the first to become aware of mental  health problems amongst their team members.

Not all managers were clear on the specific role they should be playing in helping someone deal with poor mental health – but this is also something a course can clarify.

For the managers participating in the pilot, the intervention helped considerably by providing practical knowledge and raising awareness of the nature of a diverse range of mental health conditions.  It is encouraging that some participating organisations were implementing broader initiatives, supporting other aspects of employee health and well-being and positioning this targeted intervention as part of a holistic offering to employees.

In other instances, the course itself acted as a stimulus for starting wider conversations about workplace well-being redesign debates concerning the quality of current provision , as well as the role and importance of senior leadership in the discussion about workplace mental health and broader employee well-being.

The impact of the pilot is a promising sign that, with appropriate investment, managers’ ability to deal with poor mental health, and therefore people’s experiences at work, can improve significantly.  If made available to broader populations of employees, together with a long-term commitment to improving employee well-being, this programme could become a highly successful intervention, not just in the financial services but across all sectors. Something that those customers who offer MHA training to their management and staff have already discovered.

Here is a link to the full article: A new approach to line manager well-being training in banks