A 200,000 strong petition calling for employers to provide mental health first-aiders at every work place will be handed into 10 Downing Street today.
The petition, posted on Change.org, asks the Government to update the Health and Safety At Work Act to make sure employers are obliged to provide first aid-trained staff to support colleagues suffering from mental health issues, in the same way they have to make sure staff are trained in physical first aid.
The petition was just a few-hundred names shy of its goal of 200,000 signatures, as of Monday morning.
Natasha Devon launched the petition, saying she never received the mental health help she needed until she was in her 30s. Had teachers and employers been able to respond to her issues, Natasha feels she should could have avoided developing the “toxic coping strategies” which she used to battle her problems. These, Natasha writes on Change.org, included an eating disorder which lasted for seven years.
The petition reads: “The workplace is where we spend most of our adult lives but unfortunately it’s also a place that, in my experience, mental well-being is the most neglected. We feel the need to soldier on when we are struggling with mental illness in a way we never would if we had the flu or broken a leg.
“And this is reflected in our laws. Under the Health and Safety at work act, most workplaces have to train someone in medical first aid – it means if we come to work and end up getting hurt or sick, there’s someone that knows what to do. Unfortunately, despite statistics showing one in four of us struggle with mental health every year, most workplaces don’t have anyone on hand that knows how to help.
“Evidence shows the earlier a mental health issue – like stress, anxiety or depression – is detected the easier it is to manage and treat. By making it easier for people to talk about their mental health at work & and by training colleagues on site who know where to point people to get the help, we could dramatically improve the mental well-being of the country.
“Mental Health First Aid courses are available, and whilst most organisations don’t have them, those that do (like Unilever and Ford) have found them to be transformative.”
The petition – backed by the #WheresYourHeadAt social media hashtag and campaigns on the likes of Kiss FM and Absolute Radio – will be handed in to 10 Downing Street on Monday.
Source : Chroniclelive