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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.
Friday, 12 October 2012
World Mental Health Week
This is Scottish and World Mental Health Week. The aim is to raise public awareness about mental health issues. The week promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme is “Depression: A Global Crisis”.
Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.
Over recent years, there has been growing recognition of the extent of mental health issues in the workplace and outside. A quick look at any employer's absence statistics will show that mental health is a significant and growing proportion of absence. The pace of work and public service cuts have put stress much higher up the health and safety agenda.
In Scotland we have the excellent 'See Me' campaign that seeks to end the stigma associated with mental health, a condition that will affect one in four Scots. A YouGov survey commissioned by ‘See Me’ has revealed that while 60 per cent of Scots say they would not find it hard talking to a person with a mental health problem, a sizeable number of Scots are still unsure how to address mental ill-health.
Trade unions are aware that stigma is often based on ignorance and prejudice - from employers and from fellow workers. People with mental health issues continue to have one of the lowest employment rates of any group of disabled people. So trade unions can take make a significant difference by:
Ensuring they can negotiate effective policies with the employer;
Ensuring they can represent members with mental health problems effectively; and
Helping inform and educate their members and representatives to understand the issues.
The TUC has compiled a useful resource list (http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/mentalhealth.pdf) I would also particularly recommend The Labour Research Department's 'Stress and mental health at work - a guide for union reps'. This can be ordered from www.lrdpublications.org.uk for £6.
Any organisation can do a lot to end the stigma associated with mental health. Scottish and World Mental Health Week is an opportunity to highlight the wide range of resources out there to help.