Almost three in 10 (29%) line managers are unaware of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) mental health guidelines that were introduced a year ago, rising to 38% among those aged 55 and over.
A new study by Working to Wellbeing found one in five (19%) bosses are “very aware” of the guidance, which increases among people under 35 years old (23%) and falls among those aged 55-plus (10%).
The Window to the Workplace research further showed that seven in 10 (71%) line managers are confident about talking to a colleague about mental wellbeing at a time of crisis, with 28% saying they “strongly agree”. However, only 57% of employees are confident about conversing with their boss about their wellbeing at a time of crisis, with 18% not feeling at all confident about doing so.
Additionally, two-thirds (66%) of line managers believe they have a good support system at work to help refer any concerns about mental or physical wellbeing they are unsure of, while 13% do not think they have.
Dr Julie Denning, managing director, chartered health psychologist at Working to Wellbeing and chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association said: “On the one hand it is encouraging to see that many line managers do feel confident in the workplace when it comes to supporting colleagues with their mental health, particularly in more complex cases. But there is still more to be done as there are many that do not have the confidence, support or skillset that is necessary.
“This is crucial as line managers, being at the coalface, can often spot difficulties within the workforce early on and this early intervention can head off problems before they potentially escalate.”
Published in March 2022, the NICE guidelines highlighted the importance of line managers being upskilled in discussing mental health so they felt able and supported enough to carry out their duties. This included how to talk about mental wellbeing with staff during crises, identifying early warning signs of poor mental health and raising awareness of where further help was available.