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Are your staff lying about their mental health?

Recent research suggests that 69% of employees believe that their people manager directly impacts their mental health. Many of us have experienced the difference between a terrible boss and a great boss and how that affected how we felt about ourselves and the business we worked for.

One of the most common questions I get asked when delivering people manager training is “How can you tell if they are lying?” to which my immediate response is “Why do you think they are lying?”.

What strikes me the most about this question is that it crosses the mind of around 80% of the people who I train. In most cases you cannot see mental health issues so we are more inclined to challenge its existence than that of a physical illness. It is an historic stigma against mental health, and one we need to change.

The fact is that people do lie about having physical illnesses as well. We should be less focused on if someone is being truthful and more focused and supporting someone so that they can safely return to work as a productive member of the team.

Benefits of education and training for your staff

People manager training addresses some of those judgements and stigma that surrounds mental health. It can educate and build line managers self awareness around their own mental health. I call this the red car affect. You decide to buy a red car thinking that its quite unique. But now as you drive down the road you see red cars everywhere. Those other red cars have always been there, but it’s only now you own a red car yourself that you are more aware of others.

It’s the same principle with understanding your own behaviours and where your own mental health is. When you know this you will notice others behaviours as a result.

One of the other big barriers for people managers is the fear of having emotive discussions with their teams. This fear usually relates to saying the wrong thing or not knowing what to say. In our training we use simple frameworks to help guide people managers through conversations safely.

We know that people managers have an impact, but this does not have to be a negative one. That impact can be positive, through awareness and by creating a safe space for open conversation. Education around what mental health is and how can we support life’s ups and downs, through policy and best practice ways of working, we can support personal growth and a thriving workforce.

My name is Claire Bennett and I run a training company specialising in workplace mental health. I firmly believe that creating a mentally safe working environment is paramount to a successful and sustainable business. After all your most important assets are your people and it could be costly to ignore this vital area of their lives.

Thanks for reading.

Claire Bennett

Mental Health & Wellbeing Consultant


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