In Brief

UK firms urge law change on mental health at work

Top executives urge Theresa May to honour manifesto pledge and make mental health first aid mandatory

Some of the UK’s biggest employers have called for changes in the law to give mental health the same status as physical health at work.

The campaign, launched by Mental Health First Aid England, estimates the cost to UK economy of 15.4 million days lost to anxiety, stress and depression a year stands at more than £35bn.

However, a 2017 government commissioned-review found this could be as high as £99bn a year, with one in six British workers suffering from a mental health condition.

While the prime minister has said she will introduce new legislation to tackle the stigma around mental health at schools and businesses, “there has been little progress on the latter”, says The Independent.

Inaction has prompted 50 executives, including Lord Sugar and bosses from Thames Water, Royal Mail, WH Smith and Ford of Britain to write an open letter to Theresa May in the Sunday Telegraph urging her to prioritise her election pledge to make mental health first aid mandatory in all workplaces.

If implemented, “the proposal would mean that any business large enough to require a first aider would also have to ensure that the same number of employees were trained in mental health”, says the paper.

They would be taught how to speak to someone who has a panic attack or is displaying symptoms of depression and would be able to recommend further help and support beyond that offered by the NHS.

According to a survey of 44,000 people carried out by the mental health charity Mind, around 300,000 people lose their job due to a mental health problem each year.

However, a recent poll by the Institute of Directors found fewer than one in five firms offered mental health training for managers.

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