SCOTTISH Borders Council has backed a motion to train all of its staff in mental health awareness. 

At a meeting of the council on Thursday October 31, Leaderdale and Melrose councillor Kevin Drum called on the local authority to provide training for all of its staff. 

His motion reads: “The estimated cost of mental ill health to UK employers is between £33bn and £42 bn each year. 

“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate that one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their working life.

“Councillors meet and work with constituents, external partners and other individuals who may be experiencing mental health issues.

“The council previously approved awareness sessions to recognise and be more aware of mental health issues and given the benefit of such interventions, we now request that Scottish Borders Council bring forward a detailed programme of officer or third sector led mental health awareness sessions for all councillors and staff.

“This will ensure we can become more aware of the symptoms and signs in those who we meet, while carrying out our role as Scottish Borders councillors.”

Councillor Drum’s motion was seconded by Tweeddale West councillor Kris Chapman, who told the chamber: “Mental health can impact and affect many of us on a daily basis, in small and even major ways.

“As councillor Drum has already identified, one in four of us will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives and one in six of us, in this very room, will probably be experiencing a mental health condition right now.

“It’s important that we as an outward looking institution, supporting not only the 4,000 staff within the organisation but also the residents and communities, when they are in their greatest moment of need they know they can turn to us as elected members.”

Speaking in support of his own motion, councillor Drum said: “As a wellbeing and safety champion I feel that this is an appropriate time to raise the issue of mental health in the workplace.

“According to a recent Mental Health Foundation report, the value added to an economy by people who are in work and have, or have had, mental health problems, is as high as £225bn a year, or 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP.

“We all have times in life, where things get on top of us, that may be work or personal issues, financial or family issues, or indeed our physical health, so it is vital that employers consider the value of all employees, and addressing mental health at work can achieve this. 

“Sadly, over 6,000 people a year die by suicide in the UK, and having a long term mental health issue may reduce your life expenctancy by as much as 21 years. 

“We can provide staff with the information and training to recognise the signs in themselves and others.

“I feel that small steps can make a huge difference, that’s why I’m asking my fellow councillors to support this motion. It may even help some of us sat here today in future.”

Councillor Drum’s motion, seconded by councillor Chapman, was passed unanimously by the council.