• Andy Webb

Where's your head at?

Recently I came across a campaign that resonated with something I have been talking with employers about for many years - we need to treat mental health first aid as seriously as physical first aid in the workplace. The Where's Your Head At campaign wants to change this through legislation. It was started by mental health writer and campaigner Natasha Devon and supported by Bauer Media and can be followed on social media using #wheresyourheadat

Around 1 in 6 people are experiencing diagnosable levels of anxiety, depression or stress in the workplace and a further 1 in 6 are affected by symptoms (Royal College of Psychiatrists). Of course we'll never know how many people are really affected due to the stigma around mental health that is still felt in workplaces. In addition to the obvious personal cost to each individual, this costs business money! The latest estimates from Centre for Mental Health are that UK businesses lose on average £1300 per person every year due to mental health issues. We lose 70 million days per year due to absenteeism and more than that again due to presenteeism (i.e. people who are at work but not able to function productively).

Whilst organisations are legally required under the Heath and Safety and Work Act 1974 to risk-asses their workplaces and train a minimum number of people to be physical health first aiders, there is still no legal obligation to appoint anyone to help with mental health first aid issues in the same way. This campaign aims to change that and is making good progress - already over 200,000 people have signed the petition that has been delivered to Downing Street on World Mental Health Day 2018. You can sign it too here But you don't need to wait for legislation to improve the mental health of your workplace. Mental Health First Aid training already exists and has done for 18 years now! In the UK over 300,000 people have already had MHFA training and there are now different formats of courses for different types of roles. In 2011 I qualified as a MHFA Instructor and since then have trained 100s of people across London and SE England to become Mental Health First Aiders in their workplaces and communities. It's a great training course, that really changes people's thinking and can be a major part of whole organisation approach to improving health and wellbeing at work. On more than one occasion I have received feedback that this was the best workplace training someone had ever had. The more conversations that subsequently take place in the workplace; the more the stigma will be reduced and the earlier people will get help. This will reduce absence and be of benefit to every organisation. So as it looks like it could be the law soon, so why not get your organisation ahead? Visit our website or email me to find out more -

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