An online training program called HeadCoach increases managers' confidence in their ability to prevent and manage mental health issues among their staff, reports a trial in the July Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
HeadCoach offers "a suite of both responsive and preventive strategies to help managers better understand and support the mental health needs of their staff," according to the report by Aimée Gayed, MCrim, of University of New South Wales, Sydney, and colleagues. In the study, 87 managers at Australian companies were assigned to the online training program; another 123 managers were assigned to a waiting list control group.
About 37 percent of managers assigned to HeadCoach completed all modules of the program. This group had increased confidence in their ability to create a workplace that supported the mental health needs of their direct-report employees. The improvement remained significant at four months after training.
Managers who completed training also used more responsive and preventive behaviors to create a mentally healthy working environment. The study wasn't able to show a significant impact on employees' psychological symptoms, based on follow-up questionnaires in 173 employees.
Mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders are a major contributor to work absences and disability. Factors in the workplace may precipitate mental health conditions. Managers can play a key role in reducing the impact of work-related mental health risk factors, but they are uncertain of how to do so.
"HeadCoach online mental health training is an effective and scalable way to improve managers' confidence and workplace practices around mental health," Ms. Gayed and coauthors conclude. They acknowledge the need for more research to show an impact on employees' mental health symptoms, including studies comparing online and face-to-face training programs.