PM launches workplace mental health review

The Prime Minister has ordered a review of mental health in the workplace looking at ways employers can support employees with mental health issues.

Theresa mayIn a speech to the Charity Commission this morning, Prime Minister Theresa May will announce that Lord Dennis Stevenson and Mind chief executive Paul Farmer will lead a review on how best to ensure employees with mental health problems are supported in the workplace.

Lord Stevenson, who was chair of HBOS between 2001 and 2009, has spoken publicly about his own bouts of clinical depression.

The review will involve practical help including promoting best practice and learning from employers already doing well on workplace wellbeing, as well as offering tools to organisations of all sizes to assist with employee wellbeing and mental health. It will also review recommendations around discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of mental health.

The workplace review forms part of a broader mental health strategy that will include looking at further alternatives to hospital to support people in the community and plans to expand digital mental health services. The Government is pledging to spend £67.7m on digital mental health packages to enable people worried about stress, anxiety or more serious issues to access digital therapies online.

The review will also seek to address the issue faced by people with mental health problems with big debts who can be charged up to £300 by their GP to provide evidence of their mental health problems. The Department for Health will undertake a formal review of the ‘mental health debt form’, working with Money and Mental Health.

The Government says it will also support NHS England’s commitment to eliminate inappropriate placements to inpatient beds for children and young people by 2021.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer says: “It’s important to see the Prime Minister talking about mental health and shows how far we have come in bringing the experiences of people with mental health problems up the political agenda. Mental health should be at the heart of government, and at the heart of society and communities – it’s been on the periphery for far too long.

“We welcome the announcements around a focus on prevention in schools and workplaces and support for people in crisis. The proof will be in the difference it makes to the day-to-day experience of the one in four who will experience a mental health problem this year. Mental health is everyone’s business and we need to see sustained leadership to make sure services and support improve for all of us with mental health problems. Having been neglected for decades, we need to see it made a priority for decades to come to make sure everyone with mental health problems can live the life they want to lead.”

Legal & General Workplace Health & Protection managing director Martin Noone says: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s initiative to commit £15m for community care and improved support in the workplace for people suffering with mental health issues, shining the spotlight on this important topic. We have long recognised the importance of mental health as it has been the number one reason for absence notifications and claims on our group income protection policy since 1999.

“We are always looking to improve or proposition and last year we enhanced our group income protection offering to provide more support and patient choice on the delivery of treatment to insured employees suffering from mental health problems. We were the first insurer to work with CBT Clinics on this and believe it to be a progressive and modern approach to rehabilitation. This initiative has been of immense benefit to both employees and employers, helping to encourage and enable the conversation around mental health in the workplace.”