Today is World Mental Health Day organised by the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme is around offering support to those in psychological distress – mental health first aid.
Norman Lamb has written for the Guardian arguing that there should be parity between physical and mental health in the workplace with employers being required to provide mental health first aid. He said that he had recently done a training course in mental health first aid.
Employers could find that investing in mental health support saves them money given that mental ill health accounts for 70 million days of sickness absence every year.
How can we possibly justify leaving the law as it is? So far as the NHS is concerned the government has committed to the principle of “parity of esteem” between physical and mental illness. Surely they must apply the same logic to the workplace.
Put simply, this is a call for every workplace to have trained mental health first-aiders just like they have physical first-aiders. A number of employers are taking action. WHSmith has committed to match the number of staff that are physical first-aiders with mental health first-aiders over the next 12 months.
There’s a growing momentum for change, and hundreds more businesses across a range of sectors are implementing mental health training for staff from Unilever and Crossrail to Channel 4. Employers have a duty of care to their workforce, and with the scale of mental issues in this country much more needs to be done. The government must act now to ensure every employee has access to mental health support at work.
In a tweet, Tim Farron called for the NHS to be given the resources it needs to tackle mental ill health:
Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay. We must end the stigma and raise awareness. The NHS must also be given necessary funding for vital services.
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) October 10, 2016
In Scotland, mental health services are way behind England as we haven’t had the excellent understanding of the issues and the vision of a Norman Lamb in charge.
Alex Cole-Hamilton called on the SNP to buck up their ideas:
He was speaking as a new survey from SAMH revealed that more than a quarter of Scots don’t take time to look after their mental health.
These latest data follow recent reports that children who need specialist mental health care have been left on waiting lists for more than two years.
Attitudes towards mental ill health have changed for the better in recent years but this survey shows that we still have a long way to go and the fact remains that vulnerable people who need care are still waiting far longer than they should for treatment.
Children who need specialist mental health care have been forced to wait more than two years for treatment. Others in the north of Scotland have had to travel hundreds of miles just to see a specialist. Tens of millions of pounds of funding has been left sitting in government bank accounts because the SNP let Scotland’s mental health strategy expire.
The Scottish Government have talked about their commitment to mental health services – now we need to see urgent action to boost support for NHS staff and patients.
This World Mental Health Day the Scottish Government must demonstrate that they are serious about delivering a step change in mental health services in Scotland.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings