Seanad debates

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Health and Safety

10:30 am

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Health and safety in the workplace training has traditionally focused on physical safety but we need to develop a more robust training system for employees to help protect mental health in the workplace. Mental health care costs approximately €8.2 billion annually. The Mental Health Foundation's survey shows that more than 40% of employees are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work and this may increase their vulnerability to mental health problems. Using Maslow's hierarchy of need going from the physical to self-actualisation, it makes absolute sense to prioritise mental health in the workplace. Many people are working longer and commuting more.They are balancing various life issues, including family, leisure, recreation, work and so on. It is extraordinary that the mental health survey found that more than one quarter of employees feel under pressure or depressed, one third feel anxious, and half feel irritable. We might all feel irritable but we can put in place measures to help improve that.

It is important that as we deal with various competing issues in our lives, we work with the World Health Organization and organisations here to promote and protect mental health in the workplace from the perspective of raising awareness and putting in place mechanisms and measures within the workplace to inform employees of supports available and to involve them in a variety of ways, whether it is decision-making, career development or recognising and rewarding their performance in the workplace.

As a former Chairman of the health committee, it is important that I continue to advocate for the proper development and management of mental health training for all employees. The Cathaoirleach has been involved in the farming community, and the issue of farm safety is one we have highlighted. This body had an important report done by Senator Conway on farm safety.

Mandatory mental health training in the workplace is vital to promoting the health of employees. It will help to create a more positive workplace and better outcomes for employees in the working environment but also in terms of family life and the home environment. It is critical that people are provided with information and training in the workplace. I look forward to the Minister of State's response.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.