Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today has backed a campaign calling for mental health first aid to be placed on a par with general first aid practice in the workplace.
The campaign, led by social enterprise MHScot Workplace Wellbeing CIC (MHScot), wants to see mental health first aid training as a mandatory part of workplace health and safety.
Poor mental health and well being is one of the biggest public health challenges facing society and the leading cause of sickness absence in the workplace. The Labour Force Survey recently revealed 11.7 million working days were lost across the UK to stress, anxiety and depression in 2015/16.
Official statistics also show the suicide rate increased between 2009 and 2014, accounting for 4,500 deaths across Scotland. Among those people of working age, 71% were in employment.
Commenting Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“For too long mental health has played second fiddle to physical health and that’s why I’m delighted to back this campaign.
“Stress prevention and early mental health intervention at work is a vital way of supporting people experiencing mental health problems. We need to break down the stigma and make sure the support is there when people need it. Embedding mental health in first aid training will help employers recognise and support staff experiencing stress.
“The statistics show we need a transformational change in mental health services in this country. Ensuring first aid training encompasses mental health will go a long way to helping this happen.”
Catherine Eadie, director of MH Scot said: “This is a very pressing issue which affects a wide spread of employees across many sectors. It is not isolated to any one social demographic and affects people at all ages and stages of their career and employment.
“We see mental health first aid training as a vital ingredient in the HR skill set. However, it really does need to be embedded as a mandatory element of workplace Health & Safety.”