The future of manager mental health training: Dr. Kevin Kelloway

March 1, 2024
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Why does Nurau focus on manager mental health training to improve employee wellbeing?  And where is research taking the future of mental health training?  

On April 21, 2023, Nurau Talks hosted Dr. Kevin Kelloway, a renowned expert in the realm of wellbeing in the workplace with a specific interest in the managers’ role in promoting employee well-being.  

During this talk with Vivienne Tam, our Chief Research Officer, Dr. Kelloway discussed the current state of training, strategies to empower managers to better support employees’ psychological wellbeing, and what he envisions to be the future of these manager trainings.  

The current state of mental health training  

Currently, many organizations provide mental health awareness training programs such as Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), which provide managers information on the prevalence rates of these conditions, signs of mental health problems, and how these conditions may affect their workplace behaviours. Although many companies now offer these mental health literacy trainings; it is not clear how effective these trainings are in translating knowledge to practice. While they are designed to raise awareness, they often do not include tangible and practical steps to implement change in the organization.  

One of Dr. Kelloway’s collaborators, Dr. Jennifer Dimoff, sees the trainings as comprised of two parts: 1) What do these mental health issues look like? And; 2) Where do you go from here?  

The missing piece of these trainings, he mentions, is this second part which involves a manager taking action regarding that matter.  


Empowering managers to promote their employee well-being  

Another important consideration is to avoid overburdening managers by setting boundaries on what is being asked of them. Managers should not be asked to act as a counselor or a mental health specialist; rather, there are other ways managers contribute to the well-being of their employees.  

For example, managers can support their employees by identifying their signs of distress and directing them to available resources. Individuals themselves are not always capable of noticing they are struggling, therefore an external individual like a manager is needed to identify these signs. When dealing with a struggling employee, this approach seems to be more effective compared to only addressing the problem as a solely performance-related issue.  

The future of mental health trainings for organizations  

As this field of workplace mental health training is expanding rapidly, there seems to be more interest in training that adopts a competency-based approach, in which managers are trained in specific behaviors related to transformational leadership.  Dr. Kelloway specifically looks into the R.I.G.H.T model of leadership where each letter of the acronym stands for a specific behavior managers can start practicing (listen to our podcast episode on R.I.G.H.T leadership to learn more!)    

Listen to the full recording of Dr. Kevin Kelloway’s Linkedin Live to learn more about the current effectiveness of manager mental health trainings and how Nurau would like to bridge the theory to practice gap so that these trainings end up impacting organizational culture.



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