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Poulter calls on Suffolk businesses to back new mental health manifesto

PUBLISHED: 16:30 15 May 2019

Dr Dan Poulter works part time as a mental health doctor as well as being MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dr Dan Poulter works part time as a mental health doctor as well as being MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has called on more businesses to sign up to a manifesto to improve the mental health of employees.

The Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP works part-time as a mental health doctor in a large London hospital, and called on companies in his constituency to back the "Where's Your Head At?" manifesto during Mental Health Awareness Week.

As part of the manifesto, employers are encouraged to adopt the "core standards" for a mentally healthy workplace as set out in the government's Thriving at Work report.

The manifesto has been endorsed by leading mental health organisations including Mind, the Samaritans, the Mental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Ilness, Young Minds and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as well as organisations such as the CBI and the Institute of Directors.

A OnePoll survey of 2,000 employed adults reveals that, on average, 42% of employees feel comfortable discussing prevalent physical conditions, compared to just 14% who feel they can talk about common mental health issues.

The research also shows the persisting mental health gap in the workplace, with first aid skills a clear indicator of this. Over seven in 10 employees know basic first aid, such as how to bandage a finger or treat a minor burn.

But just over a third feel confident talking to colleagues about common mental health struggles with stress and depression in the workplace - a basic part of mental health first aid training.

Dr Poulter said the findings illustrated that there must be a fundamental change to ensure we treat mental and physical health equally in the workplace.

He said: "As a practising NHS mental health doctor, I see people with poor mental health on a regular basis and provide care for some of the most vulnerable people with severe and enduring mental ill health. For too long, poor mental health has been stigmatised and this simply must end.

"Part of ending the stigma around poor mental health will require employers to better support staff who run into difficulties and I shall be doing all that I can to encourage businesses in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich to make a clear commitment to their employees' mental health and wellbeing and to sign this workplace manifesto."

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