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Compulsory mental health first-aid in every workplace a step closer

Compulsory mental health first-aid in every workplace is a step closer to becoming law this week, following Bauer Media’s Where’s Your Head At? campaign.

Compulsory mental health first-aid in every workplace a step closer
Lucie Cave: “This is something that we have been fighting for the past few years, so are keen to see the Bill go through and action to take place.”

Today, Dean Russell MP (Watford) and Where’s Your Head At? Ambassador introduces his Parliamentary Bill.

The Bill follows a Change petition created by Where’s Your Head At?, an initiative set up by Bauer Media UK, Mental Health First Aid England and Natasha Devon MBE to raise awareness of mental health.

In 2018, the Where’s Your Head At? campaign launched a petition that appealed for the Government to make it compulsory to have a mental health first aider at workplaces in the UK. Since the launch of the petition, it has received over 214,000 signatures and support from leaders from across business, education and the third sector.

MPs will debate making mental health provision in workplaces a legal requirement during the Ten-Minute Rule Bill, and if there are no objections it will go straight through to second reading.

The Bill is designed to make mental health first-aid part of first-aid training requirements in workplaces as well as in wider society. If successful, employers and colleagues could play a part in spotting symptoms, signposting people to further help, or simply just listening.

Dean Russell MP (Watford) said: “One of the big reasons I went into politics and public service was to remove the stigma around mental health and improve provision.

“To do that, we need a parity with people’s mental health and physical health in society, and that includes inside every workplace. This has become more urgent now as millions of people will be returning back to their workplaces either in person or virtually – many of whom have had a challenging time dealing with the pandemic and lockdown.

“The latest figures for 2020 estimate some 1.9 million people were absent from work because of a mental health related reason, and I’m sure that’s under-reported as people have been working remotely or have been furloughed, where absence would not be reported.

“Ensuring the mental wellbeing of our nation is essential. This Bill will help individuals, but also makes sense for businesses when considering productivity, and it makes sense nationally when considering the economic cost of reported mental-health related absence. If every workplace has a mental health first aider, we can ensure early signposting, guidance and support is available to boost the nation’s mental wellbeing.”

Lucie Cave, Chief Content Officer, Bauer Media added: “We are so pleased to announce that Dean is now an official Ambassador of Where’s Your Head At? and is introducing this new Bill to make mental health first-aid part of first-aid training requirements in the workplace. This is something that we have been fighting for the past few years, so are keen to see the Bill go through and action to take place.

“Mental health is such an important topic and is in fact the single biggest cost of disability in the UK. As it’s been a year since the first lockdown it is now more crucial than ever to create this support – approximately half of the population have increased anxiety following lockdown, with 1 in 8 experiencing panic and 1 in 6 feeling hopeless.”

Figures provided to Dean reveal an estimated 1,883,442 workers reported mental health-related absence in 2020 – about 5.8% of the UK workforce.

The NHS has spent around £14 billion on mental health, learning disability and dementia during the Covid pandemic (2020/21). During the same period, some 1.2 million people have been in contact with mental health services over the same time.

As an Ambassador for Where’s Your Head At?, Dean will support activity launched by Bauer Media brands such as heat, Grazia, Greatest Hits Radio and KISS that raises awareness of mental health in the UK.

The First Aid (Mental Health): Ten Minute Rule Motion will take place in Parliament on Tuesday 23rd March 2021 at approximately 1pm (subject to change) following BEIS questions. You can watch it live at: www.parliamentlive.tv/Commons

The full title of the Bill is: The First Aid (Mental Health): Ten Minute Rule Motion – that leave be given to bring in a Bill to make mental health first-aid part of first-aid training requirements; and for connected purposes.

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