When we talk about mental wellbeing in the workplace, it can be a little too easy to focus our attention on the main body of employees. After all, making sure our workforces are happy and productive is key to running a profitable business staffed by highly engaged and loyal people.
And that’s great!
But what we’ve found some organisations need to be slightly wary of is overlooking their managers. So where does mental health for managers factor into the conversation?
After all, if the people who are leading the troops are suffering from poor mental health, it stands to reason that they’re not going to be the most effective or inspiring version of themselves.
Worse still, this could cause a trickle down effect whereby a less than stellar performance by management ends up resulting in poor team morale and a general lack of enthusiasm or direction.
Mental health for managers: what issues are they facing?
Poor mental health in managers can manifest itself in any number of different ways. And as your managers’ manager you need to be vigilant and keep an eye out for the warning signs that someone is struggling.
Not coping well at work doesn’t come as one size fits all: John in Accounts may react to stress by yelling at colleagues whenever something goes wrong, but Kelly in Marketing may be more prone to bursting into tears in the bathroom.
And this is why having a comprehensive mental health toolkit for managers that provides wrap-around support is vital.
Let’s look at some of the issues that can affect mental wellbeing in managers.
Anxiety, or Generalised Anxiety Disorder, is a state of feeling anxious all or most of the time. Being anxious is a natural emotion, particularly during times of stress. For example, feeling trepidation before giving a big presentation is completely understandable. But a constant nagging worry or even a sense of dread and impending doom is not. Anxiety can make it difficult for sufferers to focus and concentrate.
Depression, or Clinical Depression, is a low mood that lasts for weeks, months or even years. Symptoms of depression include the belief that everything is pointless as well as hopelessness and general unhappiness. Sufferers of depression may have low self-esteem and take no enjoyment in activities or situations that they previously would have enjoyed.
As the way we work has changed, post-pandemic, burnout still continues to plague workplaces. Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion and can be the result of a long period of high stress or due to a role that is either physically or emotionally draining. Symptoms of burnout include feeling tired, helpless or overwhelmed as well as procrastination.
Creating a mental health toolkit for managers
As a business leader you need to be able to identify the signs that a manager is struggling with their mental health. Crucially, you need to be able to determine when someone isn’t just ‘having a bad day’ but that their behaviour is indicative of a more serious issue.
Only then will you be able to offer the support and tips for managing mental health that your people need.
But keep in mind that when Mental Health UK asked survey respondents to identify the symptoms of burnout, while 85% of UK adults correctly identified the symptoms, 68% mistakenly identified symptoms of anxiety.
Therefore, while it might be tempting to think that simply having a mental health toolkit for managers will mean you’ll be able to address every problem with one solution, you’ll need to take a more nuanced approach and ensure that you’re tackling individual issues at their root cause.
Tips for managing mental health for managers
Mental health for managers is under the spotlight thanks in part to the increasing effort of managing hybrid and remote teams and the additional ensuing workload that comes with that.
And while quiet quitting and the Great Resignation may have seen a shift towards working-to-rule or exploring a better work-life balance, there are just as many employees, of all pay grades and levels, who are frantically pursuing side hustles or who are unable to switch off due to the expectation of them being available 24/7.
So how can YOUR company better support your management team if they’re showing clear and ongoing signs of exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, burnout or even straight up apathy?
Offer mental health for manager training
It’s a fallacy that we all know instinctively how to manage our mental health. Of course, we know that going for a run at the end of a stressful day is better for us than reaching for another glass of wine, but when we’re mired in negative thoughts and stressed out, the easier option is all too often the easier option! (AKA the unhealthy option.)
Training managers how to take better care of their emotional and physical wellbeing is the first weapon in your mental health toolkit for management.
For example, at PUSH we create highly personalised live and digital training programmes that help managers get a more robust handle on their mental health and enable them to be better leaders. Could this be something that would benefit your people?
Provide access to a workplace wellbeing coach
Some people respond better to one-on-one coaching and training rather than group sessions. This may be because they find it easier to learn in such an environment, or it could be due to the stigma that still surrounds mental health at work.
PUSH’s caring and compassionate coaches offer day-long surgeries which are broken down into easily digestible thirty, forty or fifty minute sessions.
In addition to offering your managers tips for managing their mental health, our coaches also act as guides for personal and professional exploration - helping your people to set, achieve and smash their goals.
Start the conversation about mental health
As we just mentioned, sadly there is still a stigma about talking about mental health for managers and employees at work.
But it’s your job to help break down those walls and create a safe, private and welcoming place for everyone to talk about their issues or concerns.
Turning mental health in the workplace from a taboo subject into a talked-about one might not happen overnight but by committing to management training, implementing a company-wide policy and visibly demonstrating your support for your people will get the ball rolling.
Give managers the tools they need to cope
When an employee on a team or in a department needs help or advice, in an ideal world, they will turn to their manager for guidance. But where does the manager turn when they find themselves in the same boat? The higher up the chain of command someone is, the less likely they may be to want to ‘bother’ a superior with any issues.
This, of course, needs to be addressed through the implementation of a mental health policy at work so that EVERY member of staff has someone to talk to. But it can also be extremely useful to provide your people with external assistance too.
Take PUSH’s mobile app as an example. PUSH In Your Pocket provides in-the-moment exercises, courses and personalised recommendations in the areas of mental health, wellbeing, development and leadership. It’s 360 degree support, 24/7 - and it can be a life-line for stressed out superiors.
Host talks and workshops
At PUSH we are justifiably proud of our industry-leading programme of talks and workshops. With both in-person and virtual sessions available, our coaches will cover our four pillars of mental health: wellbeing, performance, management and leadership.
In addition, we have identified a particular need for mental health for managers to be addressed which is why we’re excited to announce the launch of a new workshop, Mental Health for Managers, that is specifically tailored to business leaders.
This insightful course will provide actionable tips for managing mental health and give your managers the mental wellness toolkit they need so that they can bring the best version of themselves to work every day.
Sign up for PUSH’s mental health for managers workshop now
You need your leaders to be creating positive interactions with the people that they manage. You want them to be engaged, happy and productive and be able to bring the best out of their teams for the greater good of the organisation.
None of this will be happening if they are burnt out, stressed, anxious, angry, or on the verge of quiet quitting.
You owe it to your leaders to protect their mental wellbeing at work and our brand new workshop will become an integral part of your company’s mental health toolkit for managers.
Sign up now and renew your commitment to supporting ALL of your employees.
more articles by Cate Murden