The government is to launch a review into mental health practices in the workplace as part of a wider package of reforms around mental health support.
The workplace review will be led by Lord Dennis Stevenson, a mental health campaigner, and Paul Farmer CBE, chief executive officer at Mind and chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce.
The review will examine how best to support employees with mental health problems, ensuring they can thrive and perform at their best at work.
Liaising with both businesses and the public sector, the review will also look to promote employer best practice around mental health, assist with employee wellbeing and mental health challenges, and review recommendations around discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of mental health.
The package of reforms, announced by prime minister Theresa May yesterday (9 January 2017), will also include mental health first aid training in schools, a review of child and adolescent mental health services, community support, and investment in digital mental health services.
Farmer said: “It’s important to see the prime minister talking about mental health and shows how far we have come in bringing the experiences of people with mental health problems up the political agenda. Mental health should be at the heart of government, and at the heart of society and communities, it’s been on the periphery for far too long.
“We welcome the announcements around a focus on prevention in schools and workplaces and support for people in crisis. The proof will be in the difference it makes to the day-to-day experience of the one in four who will experience a mental health problem this year. Mental health is everyone’s business and we need to see sustained leadership to make sure services and support improve for all of us with mental health problems.”
Louise Ward, policy, standards and communications director at the British Safety Council, said: “There is a growing realisation that mental health is a significant issue in UK society. It is a complex matter with much research ongoing, but what is clear is that the workplace has a key role to play, not just as part of the problem, but also as a source of solutions and support.”
Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, added: “It is positive that the role of employers is acknowledged. Employers have a duty of care to their employees to respond to mental ill health just as they would to a physical illness. It is critical that all employers recognise that everyone has mental health and physical health, and that we all move along a continuum between good and poor mental health throughout our lives.
“I hope that this announcement will lead to more employers recognising the relevance of this issue and taking action to normalise conversations around mental health. The evidence is clear: employers will reap the benefits of reduced staff sickness absence and ultimately a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.”