Why Mental Health Training for Managers Should Be a Priority for Every Business

People leaders play an essential role in creating a supportive, healthy, and safe environment for their teams. This involves identifying and managing risks to the health of those in areas they oversee and supporting those experiencing mental health issues. According to a 2023 study by The Workforce Institute at UKG,  which included 3,400 people across 10 countries, employees believe that managers have a significant influence on their mental wellbeing, more than their doctors, therapists, spouses, and partners. Given the global need for skilled, empathetic, and authentic leaders who can deliver business results and deal with multiple demands, the business case for organisations to invest in manager training is clear.

With accountabilities for achieving results, implementing strategies, and supporting their teams, the role of a manager can at times be challenging. It is therefore essential that managers can recognise the signs of mental health issues in their employees, offer appropriate support and assistance, and help create a culture that promotes psychological health and safety. Providing appropriate mental health training for managers is one of the most effective ways to build their skills, confidence, and capacity to manage mental health issues in the workplace more effectively. To optimise your organisation’s leadership capabilities in this area, it’s important to choose a reputable provider. Aspect Group’s Prepared Leaders training, designed by psychologists and workplace mental health specialists, equips managers with comprehensive, evidence-based strategies, enabling them to proactively address workplace mental health issues and contribute to an inclusive and psychologically healthy workplace for all.

A European study of 2,921 managers showed that managers with access to mental health training in their workplaces have an improved understanding of mental health overall and that they actively work to help prevent health issues in the people they manage.

Cost of mental ill health to Australian Workplaces

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mental health is a significant issue in the workplace. One in five Australians aged 16-85 experiences a mental illness in any given year. Mental health issues in the workplace can lead to absenteeism, presenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased staff turnover. In fact, it is estimated that the cost of untreated mental illness in the Australian workplace is $12 billion per year in lost productivity.

Benefits of upskilling managers

Understand their rights and responsibilities

One of the key benefits of upskilling managers with training to identify and manage mental health issues in their staff is that they gain a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities under Australian workplace laws. This includes the obligation to make reasonable workplace adjustments that support employees with mental health conditions and reduce the risk of discrimination or stigma. For example, managers can adjust workloads or work schedules, offer flexible working arrangements, provide additional coaching or training, or consider changes in the physical environment to reduce distractions. Managers can also help facilitate help-seeking behaviour by suggesting ways for the individual to access support. For example, via the organisation’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or by suggesting the individual get a GP referral for the Better Access Program offering ten subsidised psychology sessions per year.

Understand and apply psychosocial risk and protective factors

Given the recent tightening of WHS (work, health, and safety) regulations across Australia, psychosocial risk and protective factors are also increasingly important for managers to understand and practically apply. Psychosocial factors refer to social, environmental, and organisational factors that can impact a person’s mental health. Protective factors are the factors that can mitigate the negative impact of psychosocial risk factors. By upskilling managers with training on psychosocial risk and protective factors, they can identify potential risks in the workplace and take proactive steps to address them. This may include factors such as job demands, job control, support from colleagues and supervisors, and workload. By understanding these factors, managers can take steps to reduce the risk of workplace stress and burnout, which can contribute to mental health issues.

Reduce the risk of non-compliance with WHS regulations

Another important benefit of upskilling managers is that it can reduce the risk of non-compliance with WHS regulations. Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe and healthy work environment, and failure to adequately address psychosocial risks to mental health can result in organisations facing legal and financial consequences. By ensuring that managers are trained to identify and manage mental health issues, HR leaders can reduce the risk of non-compliance with WHS regulations.

Contributes to a psychologically  healthy and safe workplace culture

Finally, developing manager capability is one of the most effective ways to contribute to a psychologically healthy and safe workplace culture. By creating a workplace culture that values and prioritises mental health, managers can contribute to a supportive and inclusive workplace. This can have a positive impact on staff morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.
Research has shown that investing in mental health training for managers can provide a significant return on investment for businesses. For example, a study by Deloitte indicated an average return on investment of 4.2:1 for employers when investing in creating a mentally healthy workplace. This return on investment makes mental health training a smart investment for HR leaders who are looking to create a more psychologically healthy and safe workplace culture.

In conclusion, managers play an essential role in identifying and managing mental health issues in staff members. By providing mental health awareness training for managers, employers can help them understand their rights and responsibilities, make reasonable workplace adjustments, understand psychosocial risk and protective factors, reduce WHS compliance risk, and contribute to a psychologically healthy and safe workplace culture. With the significant ROI on mental health training for managers, investing in this type of training is not only good for staff mental health but also good for business.


  • Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2017-18
  • Deloitte, At a Tipping Point? Workplace mental health and wellbeing, 2017 Deloitte Access Economics. (2020). The cost of workplace mental ill-health in Australia
  • Medical News Today (2019). Determinants of Managerial Preventive Actions
  • Workforce Institute @UKG (2023). Mental Health at Work: Managers and Money