Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:16 pm on 17th January 2019.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 2:16 pm, 17th January 2019

I congratulate Luciana Berger on securing this debate, and I thank her for setting the scene so well. I thank right hon. and hon. Members from all parts of the Chamber for their valuable contributions. I echo the comments of others in the Chamber about what a joy it is to have a debate on a subject on which we can all agree. We agree on the strategy and the way forward. I am reminded of the programme I watch on a Sunday night—“Call the Midwife”. Perhaps others watch it, too. There is always a real tragedy at the beginning of the programme, but at the end, things always turn out well. I hope that Brexit turns out the same. We will see how it goes.

Most of us in the Chamber have a good understanding of the impact that mental health issues have on people’s emotional and physical state. In the short term, mental health problems alter personality traits and the behaviour of individuals. In the long term, they can lead to suicidal thoughts. In the worst-case scenario, they can eventually drive a person to commit suicide. There were 318 suicides registered in Northern Ireland in 2015, which was the highest since records began in 1970. People often have trouble coping with mental health issues, which of course will translate into their work life. Mental health cannot be compartmentalised. That is not the key to working and living with mental health problems.