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Mental Health Services: Employment

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 5th December 2018.

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Photo of Lord Ouseley Lord Ouseley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to making the provision of mental health first aid mandatory in the workplace.

Photo of Baroness Buscombe Baroness Buscombe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 already allow for the consideration of mental health alongside physical health when undertaking a needs assessment. On the 21st November 2018 the Health and Safety Executive published guidance to clarify this point for employers.

Key evidence reviews of the impact of mental health-type training in a workplace environment show that there are a number of knowledge gaps which mean it is not possible to say whether the training is effective in improving the management of mental health in workplaces, or whether it is the only effective mechanism for support. The research also identifies additional prevention and management actions that employers should put in place to create a comprehensive approach.

In January 2017, the Prime Minister commissioned Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer, the Chief Executive of Mind, to conduct an independent review into how employers can better support all employees, including those with mental ill health or wellbeing, to remain in and thrive at work. “Thriving at Work: The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers was published in October 2017.”

In November 2017, the joint DWP/DHSC Work and Health Unit (WHU) published “Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability” setting out plans for three key settings: welfare system, workplace and health system, and also set out the Government’s response to “Thriving at Work”. This response welcomed a key recommendation from the ‘Thriving at Work’ review for employers to adopt a set of core mental health standards that will provide a comprehensive approach to transforming mental health in the workplace. Government is committed to working with the authors of the review and key stakeholders across the public, private and voluntary sectors to ensure that employers of all sizes act to implement the core and enhanced standards and help them, and their employees, realise the benefits of healthy, inclusive workplaces.

Therefore, the Government’s view is that the best way to secure employer action is to engage with employers on a voluntary basis to implement the comprehensive mental health core standards approach rather than legislate on a single issue.

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