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Occup Environ Med. 2018 Jun;75(6):462-470. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104789. Epub 2018 Mar 21.

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

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School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Black Dog Institute, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Centre for Population Health Research, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.
School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Occupational Health Department, The Education Centre, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK.
Department of Population Health Sciences, King's College London, London, UK.
School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Department of Mental Health and Suicide, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.
Centre for Work and Mental Health, Nordland Hospital Trust, Bodø, Norway.
Centre for Research and Education in Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
Brain and Mind Centre, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


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 meta-analysis 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 review suggests that in order to understand the effectiveness of manager training on employees, an increase in collection of employee level data is required.


mental health; occupational health practice

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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