Business leaders call for legislation ensuring compulsory mental first aid at work

Business leaders call for legislation to establish mental first aid at workBusiness leaders have called today for the Government to update health and safety legislation to protect mental health in the workplace. In an Open Letter to the Prime Minister signed by more than 50 leaders of some of Britain’s biggest employers including PwC, Royal Mail, WHSmith, Mace, Ford and Thames Water calls on the Government to prioritise its manifesto pledge to amend health and safety legislation to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing. With mental health issues estimated to cost the UK economy almost £35 billion every year as 15.4 million working days are lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety the letter, signed by the Chairman of Mental Health First Aid England and the CEO of Bauer Media Group, along with leaders of some of the UK’s biggest employers, are asking that workplaces are required to make provision for mental as well as physical first aid.

Fionuala Bonnar, Chief Operating Officer, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England commented, “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.

“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. Ensuring that first aid support is there for the millions of people who struggle with their mental health every year will make a big difference to how we all think about our health as a whole.”

The Open Letter follows the delivery of a petition of over 200,000 public signatures to 10 Downing Street as part of a mental health campaign called ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ founded by Natasha Devon MBE, Mental Health First Aid England and Bauer Media, which has received cross-party backing. MPs from across the political spectrum originally showed their support for the issue by signing an Early Day Motion tabled by Norman Lamb MP in October 2016.

Paul Keenan, CEO, Bauer Media UK & European Radio, said, “The impact of neglecting mental ill health in the workplace is two-fold: both an economic and human cost which we have the opportunity to alleviate. “By investing in the physical and mental health of our people we will not only unlock human potential in the workplace but reduce astronomical costs to the economy. It is imperative the Government takes notice of U.K. employers and the public who are standing up and calling for change.”