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Every mind matters

10 October 2019

The NUJ welcomes Public Health England's mental health campaign, called Every Mind Matters, launched in advance of World Mental Health Day today. 

The union believes more still needs to be done to mobilise efforts to raise awareness of this growing issue both at home and around the world.

The NUJ was pleased to send a speaker to the Mental Health Crisis Summit, organised by Health Campaigns Together, Keep Our NHS Public and Mental Health-Time for Action, held at the Royal Free Hospital in London on 28 September 2019. Focusing on what is driving the mental health crisis in the UK today, the summit highlighted the loss of 7,000 mental health nurses from the NHS from 2009 to 2018 in addition to the number of doctors in specialist psychiatric training falling by 20 per cent.

Ann Galpin, chair of the NUJ's disabled members' council (and co-chair of the TUC's disabled workers' committee), spoke at the summit workshop about the social model for mental health, she highlighted the need to support those in mental distress and advocated for the social model approach to disability. She focuused on what the trade union movement is doing to ensure barriers are removed for workers experiencing mental health difficulties.  

TUC analysis shows the average pay gap for disabled workers is 15 per cent - the equivalent of £2,821 a year. However, for people with mental illnesses (29.8 per cent) and depression (26 per cent) the pay gulf is even worse. Structural issues can also contribute to poor mental health, for example, having to rely upon the gig economy and insecure work. 

The social model of mental health is fundamentally important in helping to remove barriers to work for people in mental distress but the dominance of the medical model approach to disability means trade unions have to continue to challenge the ways in which media organisations support those who are experiencing distress in the workplace.

The TUC’s Reasonable Adjustment Disability Passport is a useful tool and union reps who have used the passport have said it has been helpful especially for hidden disabilities including mental ill health and the passport can remove the stress of having to disclose and renegotiate adjustments and also ensure managers have a record of the adjustments that have been agreed. 

The NUJ will continue to campaign for more open, inclusive and humane workplace cultures and calls for media organisations to develop workplace interventions, training and commit resources to support those in mental distress.  

Tags: , disability, disabled members, disabled members’ council, tuc, nhs, mental health