Fifty leaders from some of the biggest employers in the United Kingdom have signed an open letter to Theresa May calling for amendments in how mental health is dealt with professionally.
The signatures came from important names in business, education, and mental health organisations such as Royal Mail, WHSmith, and Ford. Sent on November 18th, the letter asked the government to act on the manifesto pledge to make relevant changes to the health and safety regulations in the workplace.
The letter was originally written by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, who aim to prioritise mental health support amongst employees. It argued that when bad mental health is neglected, there are both economic and human consequences:
“Each year, workplace mental health issues cost the UK economy almost £35 billion, with £15.4 million working days lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. But the cost is not just financial, because left untreated, mental ill health impacts people’s relationships with friends and family and ultimately their quality of life.”
They claim that ensuring employers have access to the support they require will ultimately reduce these effects and that mental and physical first aid should be equally practiced.
The letter was inspired by the petition set up by Bauer Media on change.org, which received over 200,000 signatures from the public. The petition demanded that mental health support be made mandatory.
Chief Operating Officer at MHFA, Fionuala Bonnar, said: “Today’s open letter shows that business leaders clearly recognise the need to support their employees’ mental health in the same way they do their physical health.”
She added that, although it is a significant improvement, this would simply be the first step in erasing the stigma surrounding mental health.