Simon Blake OBE, Chief Exec of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England blogs on the ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ campaign’s new Workplace Manifesto. Find out how your organisation can sign up as an official supporter at wheresyourheadat.org.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a Mental Health Foundation initiative. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Foundation for creating this week in 2001. I am sure those who initiated it could only dream the level of activity and awareness that it would generate.
And it is a good job the week does exist because our recent poll of over 2,000 employees shows just how much work needs to be done to ensure equality between mental and physical health.
This is not new. We have known for a long time that stigma and fear of judgement impacts people’s ability to talk about mental health at work. The economic and human cost of this is stark.
That is why I am delighted Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England is again working with mental health campaigner Natasha Devon MBE and Bauer Media to launch the ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ Workplace Manifesto.
This Manifesto calls on business leaders to stand up and be counted and make an ongoing commitment to supporting the mental health and well being of their employees.
By signing up, organisations will be highlighting their support for a mentally healthier working world – the kind of world we all want to live in. As adults we spend at least a 1/3 of our lives at work. It is therefore imperative that businesses make mental health a priority in the Boardroom and that it translates into organisation-wide action, aligned to the Thriving at Work report’s core standards.
As a fairly young social enterprise, set up with the purpose of improving the mental health of the nation, MHFA England is built on a tradition of supporting employee mental health. Clearly there is always more that we can all do.
I am delighted that so many mental health organisations have given their support to the Manifesto. As advocates, champions and campaigners for radical culture change, we must walk the talk and lead the charge for equity between physical and mental health in what we do, as well as what we say.
The response from businesses and MPs has been incredible, with over 300 sign-ups to the Manifesto, on the first day alone. This Mental Health Awareness Week, I am urging all employers, across all sectors, and of all sizes, to join with business leaders, mental health organisations and MPs in signing up to support the ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ Workplace Manifesto.
The Manifesto builds on year one of the ‘Where’s Your Head At? Campaign. The campaign calls for equity between physical first aid and mental health first aid. In the first year over 200,000 people have signed a petition in support of the call. An open letter to the government supporting the issue, was signed by more than 50 leaders across business, education and the third sector. And, in January 2019 Mental health first aid in the workplace was debated in Parliament.
Despite government’s apparent commitment to improving mental health in the workplace – as demonstrated by the Thriving at Work review, they have not yet committed to putting mental health first aid on the same statutory footing as physical first aid.
Together we can make mental health a priority in every workplace across the country. The financial and human cost of not doing so is simply too high not to.