EEF urges government ‘Shift’ campaign to acknowledge employer contribution to mental health

The manufacturers’ organisation EEF has slammed a government campaign to tackle mental health in the workplace for failing to recognise the role employers can play.

The EEF said that by placing too great an emphasis on associating mental health problems with ‘discrimination at work’, the ‘Shift … same world, different view’ campaign was ignoring the positive contribution that employers are making to tackle problems and reduce stigma.

Steve Walter, EEF health and safety adviser, said: “Far from being the cause of the problem, we need to remember that work is good for us and that the workplace can be an excellent setting to help effect change in society’s views about mental health issues.

“Bringing about a positive approach in companies and operating effective rehabilitation programmes is not just part of employment best practice, it can provide substantial business benefits in terms of reducing sickness absence.”

The EEF has said the campaign should:

  • include practical advice, and illustrate what employers can do in terms of policy, targets and recruitment to effect a culture of change in the workplace
  • increase the amount of resources devoted to rehabilitation. The widespread skills shortage and the substantial cost to the economy, and society, of incapacity benefit makes it even more important that people are effectively brought back into work after absence
  • increase the focus on smaller firms through the use of case studies to demonstrate the positive experience of smaller organisations. At the moment, the examples given in the plan only relate to larger companies that have more resources to address the problem.

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