World Mental Health Day
10 October 2017
Tuesday 10 October 2017 is the World Health Organisation's World Mental Health Day, a day observed every year with the aim of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilising efforts in support of better mental health.
Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time. Many people choose not to disclose to their employer that they are suffering from mental health issues for fear of the associated stigma.
According to the report, Mental health and employment, published this year by the TUC, only a quarter of people with a mental illness or phobia, lasting for 12 months or more, are in work. The report suggested that employers were failing to make adequate changes in the workplace to enable people with mental illnesses, anxiety or depression to get a job, or stay in work.
The World Health Organisation has reported that more than 300 million people suffer from depression and 260 million suffer from anxiety disorders, many of whom live with both conditions. The organisation estimated that these disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year. In the UK alone, it is estimated that mental ill health costs employers £30 billion annually through lost production, recruitment and absence.
The NUJ’s Equality Council and Disabled Members’ Council do much work to highlight this problem. A delegation attended the TUC's Disabled Workers' Conference in May which focussed on the problems people with mental health issues have in the workplace. A statement from the councils to mark World Mental Health Day said:
"It is vital that employers do more to support their employees to promote better mental health and well-being in the workplace. Employers should consider ways to encourage people to disclose their condition and to provide adequate resources and training for staff and managers, ensuring in particular that they champion mental health awareness throughout the organisation, and review their existing policies to ensure that there is sufficient sign-posting for individuals to seek help when they are in need and strategies in place to help them continue to do their jobs despite their poor mental health.
"Making counselling available or putting in place more flexible working arrangements are easy measures to take and can make all the difference. For someone with mental health problems, it is a great help if they know they know they have their union behind them to offer support."
The council and union do much work to highlight this problem, to promote better workplace practices and provide advice to reps deal with these issues. Go to the website's dedicate page on Stress and Mental Health to find more information and resources.
NUJ stress factsheet
NUJ guidelines for responsible reporting on mental health, mental illness & death by suicide