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2014 National Disabled Members' Conference
11 June 2014
Carried as Amended

One in four people experience mental health issues at some point in their lives, but there is still a lot of stigma associated with mental health impairments, making many people unwilling to disclose mental health issues in the workplace.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people still face high levels of bullying and harassment and discrimination in the workplace, which is likely to increase the level of LGBT members experiencing mental distress.

The current context of increasing stress, due to cuts, austerity measures and excessive workloads is likely to increase the number of LGBT people experiencing mental health issues and to increase the stress on those who have a mental health impairment or who are already experiencing mental health problems.

It is important that the provision of appropriate support for disabled LGBT people experiencing mental health issues takes account of their own specific needs.

Conference notes that isolation at work can place Black LGBT people at increased risk of mental ill-health. However, being Black and LGBT with mental ill-health is particularly detrimental as many services do not recognise the complexities of multiple identities. Misconceptions due to assumptions around sexual orientation and gender identity do little to encourage Black disabled LGBT people to seek assistance or access the information they need. This was highlighted in the research undertaken by Stonewall and the Runnymede Trust, published in their 2012 report “One Minority at a Time”. It is disappointing that the views of Black transgender people were not included in their research.

Some services that did exist to meet the mental health needs of Black disabled LGBT members have lost funding due to the austerity measures of this government.

Conference notes that there have been many anecdotal reports of the disproportionate impact of the government’s austerity measures on disabled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people but a lack of hard evidence to date.

Conference therefore welcomes the support of UNISON’s General Political Fund (GPF) in funding the UNISON National LGBT Committee to commission the NatCen Research Report: “Implications of austerity for LGBT people and services”.

Conference instructs the National Disabled Members Committee to campaign for increased awareness of mental health issues and how they affect disabled LGBT people and the provision of appropriate support.

This should include:

1) Promoting LGBT aspects of mental health issues during Mental Health Week;

2)Raising awareness of mental ill-health as a workplace issue and ensure campaigns address the specific concerns of disabled LGBT members;

3)Identifying and circulating good practice by branches and regions in supporting and representing disabled LGBT members experiencing problems with their mental health;

4)Encouraging the provision of training in mental health issues, and how they affect disabled LGBT people in all their diversity, for stewards, health and safety and equality reps;

5)Working with community based organisations to promote good practice in meeting the mental health needs of disabled LGBT members and other disadvantaged groups including young, black and women members;

6)Disseminate the NatCen research findings to as wide an audience as possible as part of our campaign against the cuts and in defence of public services; and

7)Use the research as a recruitment tool, highlighting the need to be in a union at a time of savage cuts to disabled LGBT people’s jobs.