Acting on mental health at work

I was pleased to contribute to the Fabian Society’s new Minds at Work report about how to make our workplaces more mental health friendly. It is the latest initiative from of The Changing Work Centre established by the Fabian Society and the trade union Community two years ago to explore progressive ideas for the modern world of work.

In my contribution I argued that if we are to confront the challenges of mental health in the workplace, it is crucial the National Health Service – the country’s biggest employer – sets a high standard itself.

The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world, with over 1.5 million employees. Indeed, there is scarcely an extended family in Britain without someone who works for the NHS or one of its associated services.

That makes it a great place to demonstrate the best in mental health employment. You can read a copy of the report by clicking here.

I want to see all employers take mental health seriously. That is why I want to see all large employers have a mental health first aider on hand to support staff and encourage prevention and early intervention whenever possible..

The proposal has gained significant support through the Where’s Your Head At campaign outside Parliament and in Parliament I have teamed up with a number of MPs to press the government to change the law. You can read the full debate we had just over a week ago here. The government agreed in the debate that ‘mental health first aid has a role to play’ but stopped short of agreeing to change the law to make it fully possible.

Talking about mental health in the workplace can break down barriers and make a real difference to people, creating space for people to open up about their experiences.

Over 1,000 employers have now signed up to the Time to Change pledge to support mental health in the workplace. This year’s Time to Talk Day takes place on Thursday February 7 and there are some great ideas about how to start a conversation in your workplace. You can find out more and order free resources here.