Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Mental Health Series.

The idea of a PPE equivalent for mental health and safety was inspired between 2017 and 2019 whilst delivering mental health training within the construction and manufacturing sectors. PPE is about prevention, prevention of illness or injury and preventing litigation. Its purpose is to reduce risk and keep people safe and, in line with the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, provision of PPE is a legal requirement. It’s primarily about minimising risk of physical harm with a focus on being proactive; no point in putting that hard hat on once you’ve been hit on the head and are unconscious, or providing gloves after someone has dermatitis or a burn or that high viz jacket once you’re lying on the ground and have been knocked over! To make the idea of control measures, as defined within any risk assessment for health and safety, more relatable, and to normalise attitudes to mental ill health, Mindshift offers a variety of organisational support that is based on areas found within the list below.

What might the equivalents of PPE for mental health and safety look like?

Parity of esteem

Parity of esteem is the principle by which mental health is given equal priority to physical health and was enshrined in law by the Health and Social Care Act 2012. The current lack of parity is evidenced in various research that demonstrates a life expectancy that is 15 – 25 years lower in those living with severe mental illness. My aim is to make the concept of minimising work-related risk of stress and mental distress easy to understand and to make it more relatable, especially within those sectors where physical health and safety and the usefulness of control measures and risk assessment is second nature.

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety and within its guidance documents aims to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health. This includes mental as well as physical health. Stress and mental health are one of the 3 health priorities that the HSE has been focussing on since 2016 as per their Health and Work Strategy. Many businesses continue to be reactive rather than proactive in their approach to managing work-related stress. With many employees feeling unable to be honest with their employer about their mental health, this can lead to people becoming more unwell, being absent from work or attending work when not fit (presenteeism).

The PPE for Mental Health Series provided by Mindshift Consultancy offers a range of training and organisational support. Two brand new IOSH approved courses are now available for in-house delivery (virtual initially), entitled “Understanding and Supporting Stress & Mental Fitness in the Workplace” and “Performing an Individual Stress Risk Assessment: Why, When and How” under the licence of Mindshift Consultancy.

Libby Morley
MSc Workplace Health
OHA (Dip)
Owner, Mindshift Consultancy

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