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Mayor calls on employers across London to reduce mental health stigma

As part of his drive to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Londoners, the Mayor on 31 August 2017 took part in a Mental Health First Aid training session and called on all employers to make mental health training programmes available to their staff.

Sadiq’s deputy mayors joined him for the training session at City Hall, which is designed to equip them with the skills to recognise if a colleague, friend or family member is struggling with a mental health issue and be able to offer appropriate support.

Research reveals that Londoners report a lower level of life satisfaction, wellbeing and feeling of self-worth than the national average1 and every week, more than 14 Londoners take their own lives2. In the UK, approximately one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year3 and suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged between 15 and 24 and the biggest killer of men under 494. Mental ill-health also costs UK businesses £26 billion per year5 and is the leading cause of sickness-related absence6.

The Mayor has vowed to help improve the mental health of all Londoners and is encouraging employers to make mental health training programmes available to their staff. Through the training, Sadiq hopes to reduce the impact of mental health problems in the workplace, equip front-line staff to recognise mental health issues in members of the public and reduce the overall stigma associated with individuals talking about their mental health to their peers.

The Mayor is responsible for Transport for London, whose workers are regularly offered mental health and trauma support training to enable them to offer support to their colleagues and passengers on the network.

The Mayor is also calling on all employers to sign up to his Healthy Workplace Charter, which provides businesses with a range of tools to support staff health and wellbeing.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’ve long said that mental health is of paramount importance, which is why I’m leading by example and taking part in Mental Health First Aid training alongside members of my team at City Hall.

“Poor mental health can affect anyone at any time. It’s vital that we all work together to improve the mental health of Londoners and reduce stigma – and employers have a big part to play.

“I want London to become a more open and tolerant place where people can speak openly about their mental health and the support they need. We need to ensure businesses and staff members across the city can recognise the signs that their friends, colleagues or customers might be experiencing poor mental health and are equipped with the skills to support them.”

On 31 August 2016 training at City Hall was carried out by Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. In total, 1,300 instructors from MHFA England have delivered courses to over 200,000 people. MHFA England has an ambition to train one in ten people across England in Mental Health First Aid skills.

Poppy Jaman, CEO Mental Health First Aid England and City Mental Health Alliance, said: “By personally undertaking a Mental Health First Aid course, the Mayor and his team are sending out a strong message that mental health is everyone’s business. We are already working with a large number of employers across the City to ensure that leaders, managers and staff are trained to offer initial support to someone experiencing a mental health issue and we fully support the Mayor’s commitment to make London a more mentally healthy place to work and live.”

Dr Tom Coffey OBE, Mayoral Health Advisor, said: “I’m delighted that the Mayor has taken a lead in showing Londoners that poor mental health isn’t something to be ashamed of and that we can all play our part in improving the mental wellbeing of others in the capital. I hope this leads to employers across the city signing up to make Mental Health First Aid training available to their staff and reducing the stigma associated with talking about mental health.”

Sadiq recently launched Thrive LDN, a city-wide movement to improve Londoners’ mental health and wellbeing and to challenge stigma. The Mayor joined forces with over 200 experts, voluntary, public and private organisations, clinicians and academics to spearhead this campaign that will support Londoners to lead healthier, happier lives. Better mental health for all Londoners was also marked as a priority in the Mayor’s draft Health Inequality Strategy, which is currently out for consultation.