One of the main reasons I went into politics was to remove the stigma around mental health.
Stress, depression or anxiety continues to be the leading cause of people taking time off work, accounting for half of all cases of self-reported work-related ill health in 2022.
This is not only extremely worrying for the health of the nation, but also for business productivity and economic growth. Annually 17 million workdays are lost, at an estimated £56 - £100 billion economic cost due to poor mental health and ‘presenteeism’. It is very concerning to know that 54% of workers who take two or more mental health related absences will go on to leave their jobs. With the likelihood of underreporting, this number will only continue to increase.
This is bad for workers and bad for business, but there is a way to help.
On 25th January 2023, I re-introduced my Private Members Bill on Mental Health First Aid: to make mental health first-aid awareness part of first-aid training requirements in workplaces. If successful, staff would be trained to direct to the dedicated support available, just like they would with physical first aid, creating parity between mental and physical health.
Just as thousands of lives are saved through CPR, imagine how many more could be changed if we simply knew the signs to look for and how to help. Given the return on investment in staff wellbeing is estimated to be £5 to every £1 spent, the proposal makes business sense too.
As a long-standing champion of small business, and as a former Business Minister, I appreciate there are many companies who already strive for the best working environment for their staff. My proposals would not unfairly increase the responsibilities of employers. My own initiative in Watford has trained nearly 1,000 people in MHFA Awareness, in collaboration with Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce, with a wider ambition to become a wellbeing town.
You do not have to wait for legal change.
Let me know what approach you already have in place to support your staff in my survey below.
Having met with a great number of Watford businesses, it is fantastic to learn that this has the support of organisations of all sizes across many industries in Watford.
I will be demonstrating to the Government and colleagues across Parliament the strong support for mental health awareness in the workplace as I continue to progress the campaign nationally.
Please take our mental health survey below.