Following a debate held in Parliament on legislative change around mental health first aid in the workplace, a cross party group of MPs overwhelmingly backed a motion to introduce legislation to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing through First Aid regulations.
MPs from across the five main political parties spoke in support of the issue as part of a Backbench Business Committee debate, with all recognising the importance of addressing the need for improved first aid support in the workplace. The motion was tabled by a cross-party trio of MPs including Luciana Berger MP (Lab), Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem) and Jonny Mercer MP (Con). The speaker concluded at the end of the debate that the ayes had it, signalling the majority view that First Aid regulations need to be updated to ensure that mental health is treated equally to physical health in the workplace.
Despite the overwhelming support for legislative change, both in the House and by UK employers in their letter to the Prime Minister, Government Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, Jackie Doyle-Price MP did not speak in support of the motion saying, “We would not want to have legislation that became a floor of service in mental health.” However, Ms Doyle-Price did agree that more debate was required on the issue of mental health in the workplace.
Simon Blake, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid England, said: “We need the law to change to put mental and physical first aid on an equal footing in the workplace. This proposed change is backed by some of the UK's biggest businesses, the general public and Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum. Today, there was a further demonstration of support for this legislative change when MPs debated the issue in parliament. Although the motion was opposed by Jackie Doyle-Price, the Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, the speaker concluded that the ayes had it. There was also a commitment by the Minister to continue the debate on the issue of mental health in the workplace.”
“The government has made some clear commitments to achieving parity of esteem for mental health, a vision that we and many other mental health organisations share. Updating the current first aid regulations to include mental health would move us one step closer to achieving this equality and we believe that it really is a case of when, not if, this change in law will happen.”
The ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ campaign was launched in May by mental health campaigner Natasha Devon MBE, Bauer Media UK and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. Over 200,000 members of the public showed their support for the campaign by signing a change.org petition, which was delivered to 10 Downing Street in October.
In November, over 50 leaders from across business, education and mental health joined the calls by signing and Open Letter to the Government. This included support from organisations including PwC, WHSmith, Royal Mail, Mace and Thames Water.
Laura Hinton, Chief People Officer at PwC said: "The wellbeing of employees is a key responsibility for all employers, so it's good to see more support for mental health support in the workplace being debated in the house of commons today. Everyone should feel able to be themselves and talk openly at work, which is why it's important for mental wellbeing to be taken seriously.
“At PwC, we have made progress on supporting our people by having partner-level mental health advocates available for confidential conversations, providing mental health first aid training for our managers and clearly signposting to professional support for all our people."
Further information can be found at the campaign website www.wheresyourheadat.org.