The TUC fears that spending cuts are undermining the increasing recognition of the extent of mental ill health problems we have seen in the workplace in recent years, and the measures that have been taken in response.
Across the UK, local authority and NHS mental health services are falling victim to budget cuts, and people are losing vital support mechanisms which were helping them stay in or get back into work.
On top of this, the stress arising for many workers from the massive job cuts in the public sector, and the uncertainty hanging over those who remain, is not conducive to healthy workplaces.
It is important that mental ill health in the workplace is seen as a trade union issue. The fact that this was discussed at our recent Disabled workers conference shows that the trade union movement takes this seriously - and will work to support our members where they have need.
At this year's TUC Disabled workers conference mental health was to the fore with the following motion raising problems in the workplace for those with a mental health issues.
Conference recognises the efforts of previous TUC Disability Conferences to tackle mental health discrimination. However, Conference notes that discrimination against people with mental health impairments is still rife and therefore more needs to be done to address this issue.
'Current top-down reorganisations of health, education and other public services is increasing the incidence of work- related stress within public sector workplaces. Announcements about regional pay will create further insecurity for disabled workers in the public sector. Conference calls on the government to recognise that its under-valuing of the public sector threatens the mental health of public sector workers.
Conference welcomes the TUC's lead in collaborating with Mind, and calls on all affiliated unions to work with Mind and other similar organisations to develop practical initiatives in the workplace which deliver real improvements. Recognising that line managers have a crucial role in supporting their staff, unions should work with employers to:
World Mental Health Day is observed in more than 100 countries on October 10 through local, regional and national World Mental Health Day commemorative events and programs.
World Mental Health Day is an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). The World Health Organisation (WHO), which is the UN's directing and coordinating authority for health, supports this event. The Mental Health Foundation is another organisation that is proactive in promoting World Mental Health Day.
Mental disorders affect nearly 12 percent of the world's population. About 450 million, or one out of every four people around the world, will experience a mental illness that would benefit from diagnosis and treatment. WHO statistics for 2002 showed that 154 million people globally suffered from depression, which is a form of mental illness. According to WHO, mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which people realise their own potential, can cope with normal life stresses, can work productively, and can contribute to their community.
Mental health services lack human and financial resources in many countries, particularly low and middle income countries. More funding is needed to promote mental health to increase people's awareness of the issue. In response to making mental health a global priority, World Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 as an initiative of the WFMH, which has members and contacts in more than 150 countries. Each year the UN, through WHO, actively participates in promoting this event.
Over recent years, there has been growing recognition of the extent of mental health issues in the workplace and outside. Trade unions are aware that stigma based on ignorance and prejudice - from employers and from fellow workers - is probably the most significant barrier faced by people with mental health problems, and also the most difficult to challenge. Successive governments have promised to take effective action but today, with cuts to services and resources everywhere (themselves a cause of increased mental health issues), these promises remain unfulfilled. People with mental health issues continue to have one of the lowest employment rates of any group of disabled people.
This resource list contains, firstly, recommended publications from the trade union movement, secondly advice specifically aimed at employers, and thirdly more general materials of use to individuals. The TUC encourages unions to establish a link with national campaigns working on mental health, and in particular with MIND, which has an employment campaign and can be asked to deliver training or briefings.
The following publications are available free to all trade unionists:
The TUC recommends that unions obtain copies of the guidance document written for the TUC by Michelle Valentine working with a number of expert organisations and with the backing of the (then) Disability Rights Commission (now part of the Equality & Human Rights Commission)
The document is available free to trade unions. Although reprinted twice, stocks are now low, but unions are welcome to download the text from the TUC website (disability pages at www.tuc.org.uk or to reprint hard copies themselves.
A growing number of unions are now producing their own guidance and information. Unite the union published a pack, Organising and campaigning on stress and mental health at work in May 2011. This may also be downloaded freely from the resources pages of their website, www.unitetheunion.org
Other unions also produce materials and union members should always check first with their organisation.
A number of unions have resources designed to tackle stress at work as an issue of health and safety. These materials will also be of value in many cases because stress can easily become a mental health issue if not dealt with effectively.
Also very useful is: Stress and mental health at work - a guide for union reps - The Labour Research Department published (May 2011):
This can be ordered from www.lrdpublications.org.uk for £6 (discounts for bulk, and affiliates of LRD).
An employer looking for advice in dealing with mental health may prefer to rely on guidance written from their own perspective. In that case, negotiators can draw their attention to the large catalogue of publications produced by the Employers Forum on Disability. The EFD publishes advice for employers on reasonable adjustments for employees with mental health problems. Go to their website: www.efd.org.uk
The Health and Safety Executive published in 2007 advice that will be of use to employers and to worker representatives: Managing the causes of work-related stress.
This booklet costs £10.95 or can be downloaded free from their website, at: www.hse.gov.uk/publications/books/hsg218.htm
Expert training for employers is provided by ACAS, working with Mindful Employer. They run regular courses across the country, and also provide tailored in-house training. Details can be found on their website, www.acas.org.uk or by calling 08457 383736.
The UK's leading mental health charity, MIND, published an enormous range of advice on every aspect of mental health. Their advice for individuals at the workplace, MIND guide to surviving working life, can be downloaded free from: www.mind.org.uk/shop/booklets
MIND has been running a campaign focussed on workplace issues for several years and the TUC is keen to encourage trade unions to make use of this valuable resource to deepen awareness of the issue amongst officers and members.
The MIND information line is available on 0300 123 3393 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
The workplace campaign with a large number of materials and links can be found at: www.mind.org.uk/employment
MIND also publish: The Big Book of Benefits and Mental Health
Now in its 12th edition - and even bigger again - 280 plus pages of user -friendly information, tips, tactics and sample forms aimed at people with mental health problems and those who help with benefits applications.
This resource list has been compiled by the TUC policy officer in the Equality and Employment Rights Department. Please send any additions or amendments to this list to Peter Purton, email@example.com
The government is being 'fundamentally dishonest' about its policies for disabled people, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber warned at the TUC's annual two-day Disabled Workers' conference, recently.
'We are meeting amidst profoundly difficult times for disabled workers. Our economy remains in crisis with Britain now in a double dip recession. Employment rights are under attack when workers need them most and the government continues to force through cuts of a magnitude not seen in living memory.
'No group of people is more affected by the government's savage, ideological austerity than disabled workers. It's no exaggeration to say that when it comes to disability, there is a fundamental dishonesty about government policy.
'The coalition is keen to promote the language of fairness and is keen to stress the opportunities available to disabled people, but the truth could not be more different. Nowhere is the dichotomy between rhetoric and reality starker than when it comes to benefits - a lifeline for so many disabled people.
'As the right-wing press peddles its demeaning myths about workshy scroungers, the government is slashing £17 billion from the welfare budget. It is the poorest and most disadvantaged people who are suffering the consequences. Among them cancer patients unable to work, ex-service personnel who have lost arms and legs, and people living with thalidomide.
'The government's welfare reforms are causing immense damage. Think about the Work Programme, which is replacing welfare with workfare and allowing private firms to rake it in. Think about the conversion of Disability Living Allowance into Personal Independence Payments (PIP). This is a measure that is designed solely to save a billion pounds, and the only way that can be achieved is by reducing the numbers eligible for PIP. And think finally about Work Capability Assessments. The number of wrong decisions and successful appeals is indicative of a system that is frankly rotten to the core.
'If the government's approach to welfare is misplaced, then pretty much the same can be said of its approach to Remploy. Of the 54 Remploy factories across the UK, 36 are to be closed this year - with the remainder gone by the end of next year. And 1,700 jobs are going now - with 2,500 lost in total.
'What frustrates me is that Remploy hasn't been given a chance to succeed. There has been chronic under-investment from government - a systematic failure to use procurement intelligently and an unwillingness to calculate the true economic and social costs of factory closures. Now the government claims that it is helping disabled people into employment elsewhere. But once again, ministers are playing fast and loose with the truth. Let's be clear: slashing jobs at Remploy isn't going to create a single job anywhere else. It's just going to make a bad situation worse. The TUC is continuing to work with all Remploy unions to get the government to reverse its decision.
'Whether it's Remploy, welfare reform or benefit cuts, there is a fundamental deceit at the heart of government policy. The only way for us to respond to the government's savage attacks is by campaigning and mobilising for change.
'That's why - with the tide turning against austerity in Britain and across Europe - we need to be forceful in setting out our alternative to the cuts, an alternative based on growth, jobs and tax justice, so rather than cuts that scar the poorest, we have fair taxes the rich cannot dodge. That's the message the TUC will be taking to the people of Britain as we hold a major national mobilisation in London on Saturday 20 October.
'Our theme is simple: a future that works. The aim is not just to build on the huge success of our March for the Alternative last year, but to win the battle for Britain's future. The British people's sense of fair play has been offended by a government that slashes benefits for cancer sufferers and then cuts taxes for millionaires, and by tapping into this mood, I believe we can build a real momentum for change.'
October 20 March for a Future that Works, London
November 12-16 Anti-bullying week
November 22 – December 22 Disability History Month
November 23 Midlands TUC Awards dinner
December 1 World AIDS Day
December 3 International Day
We are publishing all our media releases on our blog: http://midlandstucmedia.blogspot.com/
This includes links to the False Economy website where cuts information is added on a daily basis: http://falseeconomy.org.uk/
Our website address is: http://www.tuc.org.uk/tuc/regions_info_midlands.cfm
You can also follow us on Twitter @MidlandsTUC
E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0121 262 6383
Published by TUC Midlands Region, 24 Livery Street, Birmingham B3 2PA
Copyright in this publication is held by the TUC unless otherwise stated. For more copies of this newsletter contact Michelle Kesterton on tel: 0121 262 6383 or email@example.com
This text may also be made available, on request, in accessible formats such as Braille, audiotape and large print, at no extra cost.
Newsletter (2,500 words) issued 15 Oct 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-21529-f0.cfm
printed 26 May 2013 at 02:17 hrs by 18.104.22.168