Supporting the mental health of employees in the workplace is extremely important for both the individual and the organisation. Such support can lead to reduced sickness absence, improved productivity and lower staff turnover. Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and should take appropriate steps to ensure that mental health and wellbeing is protected and promoted.
Our 10-year mental health strategy aims to improve the uptake of and access to a range of services that are aimed at improving mental health in the workplace. We fund the healthy working lives programme in NHS Health Scotland—that funding is £1.6 million in 2017-18—to provide advice and support to employers on the measures that they can take. That support includes a free and confidential advice line and free training courses to equip employers with the skills and knowledge that they require.
How does the Government plan to encourage as many organisations and individuals as possible to take part in the current engagement process for the draft suicide prevention action plan?
We are seeking views on the themes and draft actions for possible inclusion in the new suicide prevention action plan, which is aimed at continuing the downward trend in suicides in Scotland. We published our engagement paper on that on 8 March and notified a wide range of organisations and individuals by email as well as issuing a press release. We invite individuals and organisations to submit their comments on the engagement paper by 30 April, through our Citizen Space website. To support discussion by interested organisations and individuals, NHS Health Scotland has arranged a number of public engagement events, details of which are available online. Those have proved popular and, if there is sufficient interest, NHS Health Scotland will consider arranging more.
Access to mental health support for young people has been spoken about many times in the chamber. We are all aware of the poor statistics, particularly on access to child and adolescent mental health services. That is why Scottish Labour has pledged to ring fence mental health budgets, to guarantee access to mental health support in every workplace, college and school and to develop mental health training for staff in schools and workplaces. We know what needs to be done and are committed to doing it, so why do the minister and her Government not know that?
We, too, know what needs to be done. The member might be interested to know that, just this morning, I was at Ayrshire College announcing more than a quarter of a million pounds for the National Union of Students Scotland to help it to develop more mental health help and advice in our colleges and universities.