What A Mental Healthcare Overhaul Means For Employees
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May has today vowed to tackle the ‘’stigma’’ around mental health problems in a Major Domestic Policy speech made this morning.
This comes after numerous mental health experts in the UK have recently said more funding was needed to improve mental health services. Theresa May has not actually pledged a great deal of extra investment to improve the already underfunded services, however the fact the prime minister has chosen focus on mental illness in her first major speech on health will in itself raise the profile of the issue, this would appear to be a definite step in the right direction.
Schools and young people in particular are set to be the areas that will undergo the most significant changes, the PM has pledged that every secondary school in the country will be offered mental health first aid training and new trials to strengthen the link between NHS staff and the educational institutions.
Theresa May also announced several other measures that will be put into place to combat mental health:
- Appointing mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, to carry out a review on improving support in the workplace
- Employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off
- More focus on community care, with an extra £15m towards this, and less emphasis on patients visiting GPs and A&E
- Expanding online services to allow symptom checks before getting a face-to-face appointment
- A review of the “health debt form”, under which patients are charged up to £300 by a GP for documentation to prove they have mental health issues
The fact that the prime minister has detailed measures employers can take to help staff back onto work after they are forced to take time off for mental health problems, as well as efforts to help bring down the number of suicides is an indication that employees suffering from mental health issues might finally be offered more support. Mrs may made it clear that she was aware that “if you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand” and that something needed to be done to stop this.
Mental illness is estimated to cost the country around £105 billion, and one in four people has a common mental disorder at any time, according to the government. Therefore it is encouraging to see that Theresa May has taken notice of the ‘’hidden injustice” of mental health, which she says has been “dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health”.
2017 is an opportunity to right a wrong that has been ongoing for decades in the United Kingdom, and give people deserving of compassion and support the attention and treatment they deserve.
As we deal with many clients who have unfortunately developed mental health issues from their unreasonable and stressful working environments, we hope to see an increased focus on employee wellness within the workplace, with companies recognising that increasing overall wellness can only have a positive impact on the businesses themselves. This of course is relevant in other environments as well and we can only hope that the speech made today will be adhered too and addressed accordingly in order to start making a real difference.
Article written by Callum Morton, Stress At Work Department, Michael Lewin Solicitors