On the 17th January, there was a debate in parliament regarding mental health first aid in the workplace, where a cross party group of MPs overwhelmingly backed a motion to introduce legislation to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing through First Aid regulations. However, throughout the debate, there were concerns raised about the importance of a broad and integrated approach to mental health in the workplace.
The key Thriving at Work recommendation is that all employers, regardless of size or industry, should adopt six core standards that lay the basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health.
A number of MP’s acknowledged that whilst training in mental health is indeed a positive first step in raising awareness and finding ways to support employees, on its own, training is not enough. Government Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, Jackie Doyle-Price MP did not speak in support of the motion saying, “We would not want to have legislation that became a floor of service in mental health”. She gave examples of good practice, where mental health first aid is part of a wider system of clinical occupational health services that include case management, health screening, health surveillance and well-being.
An article published by The HR Director highlighted that the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) cautions against an over-reliance on volunteer Mental Health First Aiders, as they don’t tackle the root causes of mental health issues. Instead, IOSH argues that they should only be part of a much wider business approach.
The IOSH report into this states that:
“Good mental health and wellness at work should be governed by a whole-system approach where OSH professionals, HR, and all managers contribute. The real cause of work-related mental ill health is related to culture and the way an organisation operates. Only good management can change that.”
For this reason, at Talking Heads we take a whole organisation approach to our work. We want what we offer to be meaningful and to make a real difference to the wellbeing of your employees and business overall. We aim to support you in creating a workplace that puts the mental health of its employees at the core, which we know can reduce work related stress, burnout, presenteeism and staff turnover.
Please contact us for further information and to discuss what we could offer you and your business.