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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.

November 20, 2018

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Mental health

Employers call for action on mental health in the workplace

More than 50 business leaders from some of Britain’s biggest employers have written an open letter to the Prime Minister, which calls for a change in the law to protect mental health in the workplace.

The open letter was organised by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and specifically calls on ministers to amend health and safety legislation to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing.

It has been signed by leaders and chief executives from PwC, WH Smith and Thames Water, among others.

Statistics recently released by the Health and Safety Executive show 15.4 million working days were lost last year due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety.

And according to figures published by the NHS, one in six people of working age will experience mental ill health, including depression, anxiety or stress.

“Today’s open letter shows that business leaders clearly recognise the need to support their employees’ mental health in the same way they do their physical health,” said MHFA England Chief Operating Officer, Fionuala Bonnar.

“The change in legislation we are calling for will establish a baseline for protecting mental health in the workplace, ensuring no one is left behind.

“This is just one part of improving approaches to workplace mental health, but it represents an important step forward,” added Ms Bonnar.

One of the letter’s signatories, WH Smith Chief Executive, Stephen Clarke, added: “Every one of our 14,000 employees has access to mental health support and we are proud to have the same number of mental health first aiders across our business, as we do physical health first aiders.

“We are calling for this legislative change, alongside many other leading employers, as we firmly believe that everyone should have access to first-aid support for their mental health, regardless of where they work.”

In September, Prince William and MIND launched a new Mental Health at Work website, which brings together information, advice, resources and training that employers can use to improve wellbeing and give employees the mental health support they need.

The open letter can be read in full here.

SHP legislation update eBook

SHP’s latest legislation eBook covers recognition of mental health issues in the workplace, the reclassification of mild welding fume as a human carcinogen, new manslaughter definitive guidelines, PPE, Brexit, drone safety regulations and much more…

  • Recognition of Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
  • Reclassification of Mild Welding Fume as a Human Carcinogen
  • Sentencing Council Published New Manslaughter Definitive Guidelines
  • Larger firms face biggest fine increases: Sentencing Council impact assessment shows
  • Bouncy Castles and Other Play Inflatables: Safety Advice
  • Revision of Standards for Powered Doors, Gates and Barriers
  • PPE
  • Modern Slavery Act Review
  • Drone Safety Regulations
  • Health and Safety (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018
  • Ionising Radiation
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Diving) Regulations 2018 (Ireland)
  • Environment and Energy
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Paul Lindridge
Paul Lindridge

It is great that business is slowly waking up to fact that fact that they way they make people work is having an impact on mental health. Though as the health and safety at work etc act already covers, health and welfare as well as safety I have always let directors know this means mental health and wellbeing as much as falls from height, crushing, exposure to asbestos, noise and vibrations etc.