Stop

Even though there’s enough evidence now pointing to the fact that managers are key to an organisation’s mental health, and that having good mental health in the workplace actually contributes to the bottom line, this doesn’t mean all managers should be trained in mental health.

Granted, most managers would do well in getting specialised manager mental health training, but not in all cases. And here are 3 of those cases:

3 occasions managers should not be trained in mental health1. If the manager’s a dick

Yes, you heard right. Sorry I had to get rough. But I hear all the time from people how they’ve been hurt by a boss who didn’t care how their actions impacted on others. Or worse, how they seemed to relish hurting other team members. No amount of training is going to get someone to care when they enjoy hurting others.  If a manager has psychopathic leanings and actually enjoys making people suffer, then good mental health training is wasted on such a person. The most effective thing to do with this type of manager is to remove them from the organisation quickly.

Then the organisation should provide good quality, empowering mental health education for the rest of the people, to help undo the damage caused by such individuals.

2. If the organization is not committed

If an organisation’s CEO and leadership team are not on board with good mental health training and don’t see it’s impact on it’s bottom line, (or ‘mental wealth’ as we like to call it), then it’s probably not going to be as effective, since managers could be caught in the double bind of having more knowledge than their bosses but lacking the authority to act on it.

How this problem would be addressed is by someone in the leadership team championing the mental health cause. Preferably the CEO but usually the Director of HR or the Director of WHS. (PS. If you need help preparing for this or you would like to brainstorm ideas with me, please contact my office for a chat)

3. If the training is illness based

A lot of workplace mental health education is ‘illness’ based. It focuses on disability not ability. This type of message is not only wrong and unethical but it undermines the manager’s ability to manage and drive their team.

To improve a team’s ability to produce, and impact the bottom line, it’s mental wealth, the manager needs to know not just what to look for, how to identify mental health issues arising, but also how to utilise what’s coming up in their team effectively, and how to create a healthy workplace that will support the person to stay at work and build their resilience, rather than responding by sending the person away til they are ‘better’.

In the field of mental health, there are two overarching approaches to mental health – one that is illness driven, the other one is strengths focussed. You do the math. You decide which one will provide you with the best tools to lead your team.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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