Let’s get honest about mental health

1 in 4 people are affected by a mental health problem in any yearUNISON is concerned about the state of mental health in the workplace. It’s important that we can see the impact it has on staff and our services. Workplace mental health policies usually highlight the need for training, support and advice on mental health, but many of our members don’t feel they’re getting what they need.

A lot of us suffer in silence. We don’t talk about our mental health openly and worry how we’ll be perceived for taking a stress sick day. We ask “how are you” as we pass in the corridor, but how often do we reply honestly or listen to the answer?

Members tell us that stress, anxiety and depression are treated like a performance issue, a weakness or simply ignored. Physical and mental health are dealt with differently by managers – mental health still has a lot of stigma attached, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s thought that one in four of us will have mental ill health at some point, but our culture stops people feeling able to talk openly. The truth is that we all have mental health just like physical health. We all get ups and downs, with feeling stressed or low as common as the cold.

That’s why we’re launching our Keep Your Mental Healthy campaign. Over the next few months we’ll be:

  • Looking for mental health champions to provide other members with support;
  • Running awareness events and talks on mental health;
  • Offering stress support groups and safe spaces for you to be open;
  • Lobbying management and councillors to make the mental health of our workforce a priority;
  • And providing access to training, support and guidance when need you it.

Keep a look out for the official campaign launch. If you need immediate support, UNISON provides a free service called There For You which all our members can access on 020 7121 5620 or thereforyou@unison.co.uk. If you’re not a UNISON member yet, you can join here.

If you’re feeling depressed, suicidal, or just need someone to talk to, you can also call Samaritans on 116 123 or jo@smaritans.org.

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