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Effectiveness of training workplace managers to understand and support the mental health needs of employees: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Aimée Gayed, Josie Milligan-Saville, Jennifer Nicholas, Bridget T. Bryan, Ira Madan, Helen Christensen, Anthony LaMontagne, Allison Milner, Rafael Calvo, Arnstein Mykletun, NIcholas Glozier, Samuel Benjamin Harvey

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Early online date21 Mar 2018
Accepted/In press27 Feb 2018
E-pub ahead of print21 Mar 2018
PublishedJun 2018

King's Authors


Managers are in an influential position to make decisions that can impact on the mental health and well-being of their employees. As a result, there is an increasing trend for organisations to provide managers with training in how to reduce work-based mental health risk factors for their employees. A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify workplace interventions for managers with an emphasis on the mental health of employees reporting directing to them. A metaanalysis was performed to calculate pooled effect sizes using the random effects model for both manager and employee outcomes. Ten controlled trials were identified as relevant for this review. Outcomes evaluating managers’ mental health knowledge (standardised mean difference (SMD)=0.73; 95% CI 0.43 to 1.03; p<0.001), non-stigmatising attitudes towards mental health (SMD=0.36; 95% CI 0.18 to 0.53; p<0.001) and improving behaviour in supporting employees experiencing mental health problems (SMD=0.59; 95% CI 0.14 to 1.03; p=0.01) were found to have significant pooled effect sizes favouring the intervention. A significant pooled effect was not found for the small number of studies evaluating psychological symptoms in employees (p=0.28). Our meta-analysis indicates that training managers in workplace mental health can improve their knowledge, attitudes and self-reported behaviour in supporting employees experiencing mental health problems. At present, any findings regarding the impact of manager training on levels of psychological distress among employees remain preliminary as only a very limited amount of research evaluating employee outcomes is available. Our eview suggests that in order to understand the effectiveness of manager training on employees, an increase in collection of employee level data is required.

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