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Supporting the mental wellbeing of your team

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". 

We know from national statistics and from staff 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 Wellbeing, Inclusion and Culture Committee (WICC) 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. 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 positive work experience for all which impacts 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.

“Fantastic, so helpful; I return to the resources a lot” 

"Valuable and important training with easy to find, helpful resources."

"This is a very clear piece of training providing lots of guidance but without overwhelming you with too much information. It's really good at directing you to other resources to use in the future."

"This training was extremely enjoyable and useful. I particularly liked the scenario videos, which gave good examples on how to support staff. Also being able to download the links and content to enable me to refer to the guidelines and support will come in handy. It really made me look at how I communicate with and support my team."

"Well worth the time spent and has encouraged me to explore topics more deeply as a result." 

"A really good overview of how we can all identify and support others at times when they really need it. I hope that all managers take up the opportunity to complete this training and implement these techniques within their practice." 

"The training was useful. It helped me to understand my responsibilities as a line manager and also how to undertake these." 

"It contains useful tools for reflection which I plan to use in the future. The course offers much flexibility in terms of how deep you want to go, and includes many resources for future reference." 

"Every manager should complete this training, regardless of how much they think they already know." 

"I would wholeheartedly recommend this training to colleagues, it was helpful in reviewing and reflecting on my own management approach and give lots of helpful advice and guidance on how to support colleagues experiencing stress and mental health challenges." 

"Whether you are a line manager, have been in the past or are interested in opportunities that involve line managing, this resource is invaluable to give a strong base of knowledge with which to support colleagues." 

"I would recommend this training to others who have line management responsibility. Although I thought I already had a good understanding in this area I was still able to learn a lot and benefit from different aspects of the training such as the role-play videos. I am keen to try out the talking tool kit and the team stress risk assessment. This training got me thinking more deeply about the way I manage my team and communicate." 

"A really useful insight for line managers, but also for employees looking to learn more about ensuring the wellbeing of their team." 

"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. 


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 for 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. For example, the Academic Workload Planning Principles and Processes.

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. We have therefore, arranged workshops with the Occupational Health team on this topic. They currently offer both a “bite size” 1 hour online session and a longer in-person session to permit more discussion time to work through issues.

For more information about what the sessions cover and to book:

Supporting the Mental Wellbeing of your Team - a Practical Skills Session for Line Managers - in-person, longer session.

Supporting the Mental Wellbeing of your Team: a Bite-Size Practical Guide for  Leaders and Managers - 1 hour, online, "bite-sized" session.