Deputy Prime Minister promotes need for mental health first-aider

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, has suggested that employers should have a dedicated employee trained to help workers suffering from mental health problems, much as organisations will have someone trained in first aid.

The recommendation was part of the Government’s “No health without mental health” implementation framework launched in July, which followed the strategy’s initial launch in February 2011.

The framework outlined how employers, schools, local councils, housing organisations, voluntary groups and healthcare bodies can promote good mental health.

Along with the appointment of a dedicated employee, recommendations included the creation of mental health “champions” at local authority level, more training to be offered to GPs to identify and treat mental ill health and the publication of a national mental health “dashboard”.

It also recommended that employers sign up to the Government’s Time to Change campaign to end mental health discrimination and, if need be, get advice from the Health for Work Adviceline in England.

Clegg said: “Seventy million working days are lost as a result of mental health issues every year, costing business £1,000 every year for each employee. Managing mental health at work well can save around 30% of these costs – businesses cannot afford not to take mental health seriously.”

Employers by and large welcomed the framework, although a proportion of healthcare providers have questioned why the potential of employee assistance programmes (EAPs) seemed to have been overlooked.

For example, Eugene Farrell, healthcare business manager at AXA PPP healthcare, said: “It is good to see the recognition of employers in greater education and treatment, it was disappointing to note the presence of occupational health and the absence of EAPs, an area that Dame Carol Black did identify as useful.”

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