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Supporting the mental wellbeing of your team: training for leaders & managers

The University of Exeter wins the Universities HR 2023 Wellbeing Award!

We have won the Universities HR 2023 Award in the Wellbeing Category! The award is for the development of this online training for managers and our Colleague Mental Health Champions network. Our entry was applauded by the judges as “showing a clear, consistent and more longitudinal approach". 

  "It has been inspirational working with colleagues and experts in mental health to develop a programme that will have a far-reaching impact, in response to our community’s feedback. This training plays a vital role in us gaining skills and knowledge to be able to support each other to thrive and to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our community."

- Professor Janice Kay, University Provost and Chair of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Board. 


We know from national statistics and from colleague surveys, that supporting people’s mental wellbeing is a priority. Our vision is outlined in the University of Exeter 2030 strategy and led by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Board as, ‘we want to create an environment in which we support each other to thrive, be fulfilled and reach our potential.’ Leaders and line managers have a key role to play in managing mental wellbeing in the workplace. In response to this we have developed a bespoke training module on ‘Supporting the Mental Wellbeing of your Team’. This training will give you the knowledge and skills needed to support others as a manager and will help enable a culture of positive mental health where everyone can flourish.

This training is designed to give you practical skills in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of your team. This is essential to enhancing the overall wellbeing of the colleagues you line manage and lead, and ultimately essential to creating a positive work experience for all which has a positive impact on colleague performance and retention. 

The training is evidence-based with tips on practical applications and written by expert colleagues: University of Exeter academics from Psychology and the Mood Disorders Centre; Occupational Health experts in mental health; and others with workplace wellbeing specialist knowledge. It streamlines a wealth of expert external guidance which can otherwise be overwhelming (from NICE, Health and Safety Executive, Mind, ACAS, Government reports etc.). We’ve also thoroughly put it to the test through a four-stage pilot and evaluation involving a broad selection of leaders and managers across academic and professional services departments at the University.


By the end of this training, you will know where to access further information and expert support in developing your colleague wellbeing skills and have gained knowledge in the following four areas: 

  • The importance of managing mental wellbeing at work and the key role leaders and managers play. 
  • How to recognise and respond to stress in your team and how to support colleagues who are experiencing mental health problems, including those who require sickness absence and those returning to work after absence. 
  • Applying the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “Management Standards” to your workplace and tools to help with this.  
  • Developing a compassionate, inclusive and culturally sensitive leadership style.

All colleagues are able to self-enrol on this training via LearnUpon.  To access the catalogue of courses and self-enrol, click on the ‘Dashboard’ tab in the top left corner of your LearnUpon home page. Scroll through the courses until you find the course you want (or use the search function), click on the green ‘enrol’ button on the right-hand side. The course will then appear on your dashboard. 

Anybody can undertake the training, but it is designed for all leaders and ‘people managers’ i.e., anyone with line management responsibilities for others and anyone who leads or manages teams/ departments/ other groups of people at the University, whether they directly line manage others or not.

Around 1.5-2 hours for all four sections of the module. This depends somewhat on your existing knowledge and experience as well as how far you decide to go into some suggested side-exercises and further reading/watching of videos. It’s an important, complex and interesting topic so well worth spending time on completing it as thoroughly as possible.

We’ve divided it into sections so you can do one manageable chunk at a time if you need to break it down, save it, and come back to it later.

Yes. We’ve provided a workbook for your notes so you can refer back to it when you need to put guidance into action or remind yourself of key things that jumped out as useful to you. There’s also a full transcript of the training which you can download at the end (or the start if useful for those using screen readers etc.). A PDF of all resources is provided for reference.  

Additionally, you might want to dip into the Leaders’ and Managers’ Mental Health and Stress Toolkit produced by Occupational Health colleagues. It’s an easy-to-use reference kit covering the key areas of the training as well as more detail on specific issues, and the training is designed to dovetail with it. 

Some of this is covered in the module but this training, and the toolkit, are part of a number of actions the University is taking to tackle mental health issues and stress in the workplace. It’s not a stand-alone solution and other work is being undertaken in the area of workload, promotion, progression and leadership development with governance from the Wellbeing, Inclusion and Culture Committee.

Follow-on training workshop

Many who did the training expressed a wish for some follow-on training to develop practical skills in this area and to have an opportunity to ask questions. Occupational Health have therefore arranged workshops. Please click HERE for more details on the workshop’s content and to register.