We will ensure that our mental health response focuses on the central importance of meaningful employment, and seeks to mitigate the negative impacts on mental health of unemployment (or the risk of unemployment), redundancy, and unhealthy workplace practices. We recognise that changing circumstances, including the rapid change to home working, many now having to juggle work and unpaid care, and uncertainty in the labour market could create new challenges and demand for mental health support. The anxieties that some may feel about returning to workplaces is also likely to be a factor.
When progressing our work, we will consider the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 may have had on groups who were already experiencing inequalities, as well as exacerbating the mental health effects on those who were unemployed before the pandemic.
- 2.1 - Redundancy. For those facing redundancy, we will work with Public Health Scotland to improve our offer of mental health and wellbeing support through our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative.
- 2.2 - Employability. Building on the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, we will build mental health support into employability initiatives. In addition, we will strengthen links with Employability policy, with a particular focus on improving support for those with mental health issues to secure and sustain employment. We recognise the importance of this activity in delivering good mental health for the whole population of Scotland, particularly within the context of the economic impacts of the pandemic.
- 2.3 - Mentally Healthy Workplaces. We are working with employer groups and trade unions to promote mentally healthy work places. Building on a range of local and national services, we want mental health and wellbeing to be meaningfully discussed, promoted and supported, and for stigma and discrimination to be addressed.
- 2.4 - Fair Working Practices. Through our flagship Fair Work First policy, we will encourage and reward employers to adopt fair working practices. We will do this by attaching fair work criteria to grants, contracts, and other funding awarded across - and by - the public sector. This will drive our focus on creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces and good quality and fair work, which supports positive mental health and wellbeing in workplaces across Scotland.
- 2.5 - Home Working. Building on guidance to employers, we will work with employers, disabled people's organisations and trade unions to mitigate the potentially negative impacts of home working on mental health.
- 2.6 - Support for Health and Social Care Workforce. We will build on the work that has occurred throughout the pandemic to ensure that the Health and Social Care workforce has access to effective support and guidance. This should be an exemplar for other employers. Our 2020 Programme for Government is ambitious on this point, including the implementation of a Workforce Specialist Service, which is the first of its kind in the UK.
- 2.7 - Debt. We are working with a range of organisations who provide advice and support on debt, including Citizens Advice Scotland, to further develop a response to those whose mental health has been affected by issues relating to debt.