Are mental health first aiders a legal requirement?
Currently, mental health first aiders are not legally required, although many businesses already offer training and aid to employees.
Mr Russell believes that legally requiring mental health first aid training would save lives.
He stated that “mental health first aiders, I must be clear, are not expected to be counsellors or psychologists, but just like physical first aiders, who are not expected to be paramedics or surgeons, this Bill will simply mean workers have someone to signpost them to the support and help they need when they need it.”
This idea is not new. It has been discussed by the government and employers for many years.
In 2018, a petition was created called “Where’s Your Head At”. The campaign received 200,000 signatures and campaigned for compulsory mental health first aiders in every workplace.
If the Bill did go ahead, then the training would cost businesses. Supporters of the Bill argue that it would be beneficial when compared to the number of days lost from mental health-related employee absence.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, almost half of the employees who called in sick last year were due to mental health issues.
Mr Russel finished his proposal with “this is not a request that will go away, and I will be back if needed. It is a simple change that will make a massive difference.”