· News

UK draft Mental Health Bill criticised on improving workplace mental health

The government's draft Mental Health Bill has been criticised for its lack of impact on workplace mental health.

The draft legislation, published on 27 June (Monday), states that government will invest £150 million into NHS mental health services over the next three years, with an emphasis on giving more autonomy to people experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Lou Campbell, co-founder and director of employee mental health company Wellbeing Partners, said the new proposals will have little practical effect.

Managing mental health at work:

The importance of providing mental health support for staff

Is mental health impacting turnover in your organisation?

Employee mental health support – how HR can make a real difference

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: "This new Mental Health Bill, providing a paltry £150 million for ambulances and crisis care will do absolutely nothing to relieve the growing mental health crisis in the UK, and will make no difference whatsoever to how business approach to mental health in the workplace.

“For many years now, an unspoken two tier mental health system has emerged in the UK – one for those who are employed and who have efficient access to mental health support services provided by employee assistance providers (EAPs) and other mental health support services, and those who rely solely on the NHS or their ability to pay privately."

Workers will be too reliant on their employers to provide mental health services unless the government steps in, Campbell added.

He said: "The burden of mental health care for working people has shifted onto businesses and will continue to do so until the government starts to adequately fund mental health support for its citizens."

However, Simon Blake, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, welcomed the introduction of the new bill.

He said: “As the bill now goes through Parliament to be debated, we remain committed to ensuring that mental health promotion and services meet the needs of everyone, including those who experience systematic oppression and inequality. Our vision of improving the mental health of the nation cannot be met by a generic approach.

"Personalised mental health support and care is key to ensuring people with mental ill health are treated with compassion and equity.”

A portion of the funding (£7 million) will be used for specialised mental health ambulances across the country to reduce the use of general ambulance call-outs

The draft bill will be reviewed by a parliamentary select committee before the government publishes the final version.