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Services and support within each Local Authority, Jobcentre Plus or Health Board area.

Improving Health & Wellbeing

A healthy workforce, both physically and mentally, is important in terms of benefits to individuals, businesses and the economy. For those unable to work, whether they are sick, have poor mental health, are on incapacity benefits or have been injured at work, there is an emotional and actual cost. At any one time around 3% of the working age population is off work due to illness or incapacity costing the UK economy over £100 billion per year
(Dame Carol Black).

The health and wellbeing of the workforce can be improved through approaches which:

  • Educate people and raise awareness of the importance and benefits of improved health and wellbeing.
  • Improve the range and capacity of occupational health services.
  • Provide practical and effective support for employers, especially small businesses, in relation to promoting a healthier workforce.
  • Encourage public sector organisations to lead by example.

Dame Carol Black's report highlighted three important principles for improving the health of the workforce:

  • Prevention of illness and promotion of health and well-being.
  • Early intervention for those who develop a health condition.
  • Improvement in the health of those out of work.

Policy in Scotland widely recognises the importance of improving the health and wellbeing of the country's workforce.

  • In 2003 the Scottish Executive launched Improving Health in Scotland: the Challenge which identified the workplace as an area for focused action to promote public health, improve health and tackle inequalities. A year later the Healthy Working Lives plan was launched, detailing how the executive planned to put the workplace strand of their health improvement agenda into action.
  • The Centre for Healthy Working Lives was established in 2005 to act as the catalyst and facilitator for the delivery of Healthy Working Lives and a review in 2009 resulted in the development of the Health Works strategy, which identifies the need for effective linkages between health and employability services locally to help support people with health barriers to remain in or return to work. The strategy recognises that with approximately 2.5 million people in Scotland in some form of employment, the workplace can play a significant role in the health and wellbeing of a large proportion of Scotland's population.
  • Through Achieving our Potential and the Equally Well Framework, the Scottish Government acknowledges that to reduce inequalities in health and wellbeing, it is necessary to develop interventions which target the underlying causes, of which poverty and deprivation are central.
  • The mental health improvement action plan 'Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland' has six strategic priorities, one of which is to focus on mentally healthy employment and working life.