Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:11 pm on 17th January 2019.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool, Wavertree 1:11 pm, 17th January 2019

There are many different ways in which this could be implemented. I myself have attended mental health first aid training at the workplace, but I certainly would not be averse to employers giving their staff time off for such training. I will later come to many examples showing that this is already the case with a number of employers, particularly large employers, across the country.

This debate was born out of the “Where’s Your Head At?” campaign, which was launched by campaigner Natasha Devon and supported by Mental Health First Aid England and Bauer Media, which have together collected over 200,000 names on a petition that a number of us delivered to No. 10 Downing Street. I commend those organisations for all their hard work, and pay tribute to their commitment and determination to see this positive change introduced. It really is admirable. Bauer Media—an organisation with radio stations and a number of magazines, such as Grazia—has really taken the idea forward, paying for billboards across the country to promote the campaign. I commend its social action on a matter that, as an employer, it knows would make a difference in its own workplaces.

This really would be a simple shift, but one with a huge beneficial impact on the lives of millions of British workers. No one can seriously contend that there is not a need for such a measure. Hon. Members only have to look at some of the statistics. NHS Digital suggests that one in six adults experience mental ill health, including depression, anxiety and stress-related illnesses. There are around 28 million people in work in our country, so it is not unreasonable to assume that 5 million people in work today are affected. In a recent poll, 38% of people reported being stressed about work. It is a tragedy that, according to the Stevenson-Farmer “Thriving at Work” report—a review commissioned by the Government and published just over a year ago—some 300,000 people with a long-term mental health condition are losing their jobs every single year.