Blog, News & Events

UK businesses pushing for mental health first aid in the workplace

UK Businesses Pushing for Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace

You may have heard in the news recently that some of Britain’s largest and most recognisable organisations have been pushing for the government to prioritise its manifesto pledge to amend Health and Safety regulations to force all employers into making mental health first aid mandatory. iHASCO fully supports this movement and have been working hard over the past 12 months to help break the stigma surrounding mental ill-health.

Stephen Clarke, the Chief Executive of WHSmith, is one of many business leaders that actively promotes access to first aid for both mental and physical health in the workplace.

WHSmith have had around 1,100 line managers begin training in mental health first aid, at the cost of around £250,000. Meaning they now have as many employees trained in mental health first aid as physical first aid.

Seeing as over 12.5 million working days in the UK are lost each year due to mental health issues, this investment into the wellbeing of their employees seems reasonable - especially if you take into account that mental health issues cost the UK economy £35.5 billion on a yearly basis.

At iHASCO, we agree that good mental health is just as important as good physical health. As such, we have 2 employees that are fully qualified in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). We’ve made all of our team aware that there is somebody there to talk to and who will listen to them.

How we’ve helped break the stigma

Knowing that almost 2/3 of people have reported experiencing a mental health issue in their life, which is accountable for 13% of all UK workplace absences, we knew that it was time to shine a light on a topic that has been neglected for too long.

So, in April, we released our IOSH Approved Mental Health Awareness Training course to the public in an attempt to help #BreakTheStigma surrounding mental health. The course gives practical steps on ways to approach mental health and gives tips to manage your own day-to-day mental wellbeing.

Shortly after, we released our Mental Health Awareness for Managers Training course. Although similar to the previous course, it offers an extra section that looks deeper into how mental health issues impact businesses and how providing good working conditions is imperative.

As you can see, we have put a huge focus on mental wellbeing this year; trying to spread the word that mental health issues can be as damaging as physical health issues, and even studying relevant information that has furthered our own understanding of the somewhat-taboo topic.

In our studies, we found that workers in the construction industry are far more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression. Tragically, these issues can be blamed for over 200 suicides per year… in the UK alone.

With this knowledge, we wanted to let the world know that workers in this industry - with a notoriously “macho culture” - need to understand how to approach mental health issues - so we developed our Mental Health in Construction Training course - comprised of all the information that is in our Mental Health Awareness Training, but noting the reasons why this particular industry sector may be more vulnerable.

All three of the courses are available on a free trial - and we’ll let the quality of the courses talk for themselves. But if you take anything away from this blog, it should be that the stigma surrounding mental health needs to be broken!