Sunday 21st March - First Aid (Mental Health) Bill
I have tabled a Ten Minute Rule Bill on Tuesday 23rd March entitled ‘First Aid (Mental Health) Bill’. The Bill aims to make mental health first-aid part of regular first-aid training requirements.
As we recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, defeat the virus and return to normality, we will also be encouraging people to return to their normal workplace, when it is safe to do so. Whilst we are well on our way to defeating the virus, we are likely to emerge on the other side of the pandemic with another crisis of public health, but one of mental health, not physical.
To give some context, the onus in first aid requirements is on the employer under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981- 'An employer shall provide... such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate... for enabling first-aid to be rendered to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work'.
The figures behind this paint the true picture of what may be coming our way at the end of the pandemic. There has been a steady increase across the country in people accessing mental health services.
As we see a gradual return of employees to the workplace, we should ensure that we prepare employers to adequately provide a form of mental first-aid to identify any potential difficulties. Encouraging employers to include mental-health first aid as part of first-aid training requirements is an option, but this would likely not be taken up by most employers as there continues to be a stigma around mental health in the workplace. Legislative changes are required to ensure that people get the help they need.
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