The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places clear duties on an employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare whilst at work of their employees. Many employers have measures in place to ensure the physical safety and health of their employees, however one area which may need further consideration is steps to care for the mental health of employees.
Whilst is true that managing mental health can be more challenging that physical health, this does not mean that an employer can simply do nothing. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point – factors affecting someone’s mental health can be complex and varied but work factors do have a role to play in contributing to either good or poor mental health . Equally important is that an employer has the right view of supporting the mental health of their employees. It is not acceptable to demonstrate attitudes and behaviours that contribute to the stigma surrounding mental ill health.
What can be done?
As with any health and safety issues, an employer should consider their approach to mental health, ensure their policy covers it and that work based factors that could impact on employee mental health are included in risk assessments. For example, workers who are exposed to abuse could suffer physical harm but also poor mental health and an employer should consider steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of both.
The Health and Safety Executive’s Work-related Stress pages can be a good starting pint to access resources and guidance to assist employers to meet their responsibilities.
First aid for Mental Health Training
Training in First Aid for Mental Health should not be seen as the only step which needs to be taken. Think of it as you would physical first aid – you have measures in place to reduce the risk of accidents occurring but you also have people trained to respond should an employee be injured which can reduce the effects of any accident which does occur. Having employees trained in First Aid for Mental Health complements your policies and procedures to safeguard workers’ mental health, as they will have the skills and knowledge to identify those who may be experiencing a mental health problem, start a conversation with them and provide support and signposting to further help. Another important role they can play is to help address the stigma surrounding mental health and improve the awareness and understanding of their fellow employees, thus contributing to a positive mental health culture.
We offer a range of Ofqual regulated First Aid for Mental Health courses, from the half day Level 1 Awareness course to the 2 day Level 3 Award in Supervising First Aid for Mental Health, aimed at those responsible for implementing a positive mental health culture. Read more about our suite of training here or contact us for more details of how we can help.