In January this year, The Prime Minister appointed Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce, to drive work with business and the public sector to support mental health in the workplace.
The resulting report, Thriving at Work: the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers, sets out what employers can do to better support all employees, including those with mental health problems, to remain in and thrive through work.
Nicola Neath, Chair of BACP Workplace Division says:
“It is widely known that work can benefit our mental health, however, it’s also important to acknowledge that workplaces can contribute to mental health issues.
"Employers have always had a legal responsibility towards staff (psychological health is covered in the Health and Safety at Work act) and actually the success of any business entirely depends upon the creativity, and therefore, wellbeing of its staff. That’s why it is so important that mental health in the workplace is addressed.
"While the measures in the report are useful and practical, there is nothing new, or radically different. Unfortunately, awareness alone is not good enough. If awareness is raised it has to be matched with provision and support both within and external to organisations.
"We believe that it’s vital to ensure that employees; as well as having support systems at work, have access to people that they can talk to outside of the workplace. Access to EAP/and in-house counselling schemes is often much quicker than access to primary care mental health services and our members working in these provide a vital (often lifesaving) support service that would otherwise fall on the burden of public services.
"Unfortunately the reality is that our member’s services have faced cuts but at the same time a growing demand for our services through rising Mental Health Issues and awareness (through various awareness raising campaigns). This means that we now have the highest levels of workplace sickness absence ever, as well as a growing recognition about mental health issues within the wider society.
"We wish to call on continued support from the Government to help organisations offer access where there is none and protect counselling services and EAP services within both the Public and Private Sectors, including continuing to allow tax relief for EAPs to the private sector.”