Last week the government published its report, ‘Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability’, setting out its strategy to address disability employment inequality. This follows a consultation on a Green Paper conducted with employers, people with disabilties and third sector organisations, including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, which captured the views of around 6,000 different stakeholders.

To support the consultation, MHFA England gave guidance on the role mental health training in the workplace has in embedding good practice and supportive cultures and in helping people to stay in and thrive through employment. Overall, the consultation found broad support for the Green Paper’s general principles and positions which included; the role of employers in supporting people into work and helping them to stay in work, increased access to occupational health services, changes to benefits assessments, and the role of employment in supporting recovery.

The subsequent report sets out how the responses to the consultation have informed the government’s plans for taking forward the commitment to address the disability employment gap. It sets out a ten  year strategy to support an additional one million disabled people into employment and details how joining up the welfare system, the workplace and the healthcare system can support this endeavour. Ultimately it’s hoped that this work will help create an employment landscape where employers of all sizes are able to access improved advice and support to help them to create opportunities, recruit, retain and support disabled people in their workforce, and to manage sickness absence appropriately.

The report also includes the government’s response to The Thriving at Work Report, which was published in October, following a review of mental health and employers conducted by CEO of Mind, Paul Farmer, and Lord Dennis Stevenson. Within this response, the government fully endorses the uptake of the report’s core six standards that employers are encouraged to implement to support staff’s mental wellbeing. These standards include imperatives to develop mental health awareness among employees, encourage open conversations about mental health and promote effective people management when it comes to mental wellbeing.

Commenting on the publication, Jaan Madan, Head of the Client Experience Team, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England said, “We are delighted to see that the government has recognised the importance of mental health training in supporting people to stay in and thrive through work, both in their response to the consultation on work, health and disability, and in their endorsement of The Thriving at Work Report’s recommendations."

"From my work with employers in many different sectors, I see the difference Mental Health First Aid training makes in creating mentally healthy working environments and normalising conversations about mental health in the workplace. Attitudes in this area are changing at an increasing rate, however training like Mental Health First Aid is a practical way for employers to take action, not only to implement the Thriving at Work Report’s core standards, but also to support broader efforts to close the disability employment gap.”

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