In my opinion, yes, there should be some base level of mental health training in order to be in management. How do you expect to lead people without an understanding of how they work? However, I don’t know that it should be this level, all the time:
What should managers be trained on?
It has been suggested that mental health training for managers should specifically focus on these areas:
- How to create conversation about mental wellbeing with an employee
- General information on mental wellbeing
- How to identify early warning signs of poor mental wellbeing
- Useful resources on mental wellbeing
- Being aware of the stigma related to poor mental wellbeing and the ways to break this downMonitoring the wellbeing of everyone in the workplace.
The one that gives me pause is the last bullet, but not because leaders shouldn’t have that knowledge, but more because human nature tells me that is the one most likely to be misused and create really uncomfortable situations. There’s a very fine line between being aware of signs of someone struggling and diagnosis. I absolutely do not want anyone in the workplace diagnosing people. Watch out for signs of stress and ways you can support the folks who work for you proactively? Sure. Decide for yourself that they have depression, or should be referred to an Employee Assistance Program? Not so much.
But, here’s the thing I will fully admit when saying this. Avoiding this type of behavior is absolutely something that solid mental health training should be a part of. I’ve heard far too many instances lately where organizations are reading a lot about mental health, and burnout, in the workplace and then dispatch their managers to have conversations with their teams about it, and zero training.
Those conversations are dangerous. You have to enable your leaders to go into those conversations with some education and expertise on the subject Just telling them to go and have the conversations without getting them up to speed on how to do so, creates a situation that is likely to end up with some very alienated employees.
That’s the last thing you want. Please, make sure your leaders are being taught how to lead on this subject, and not leaving it to chance.