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2016 National Disabled Members' Conference
14 June 2016

This Conference recognises that good mental health support for members in UNISON is of vital importance and congratulates Cymru/Wales Region on their initiatives and development of Mental Health Champions.

UNISON Cymru/Wales has been active on mental health for some time. Last year, with the help of Mind Cymru and Time to Change Wales, Cymru/Wales Disabled Self Organised Group (SOG) launched their mental health awareness and have developed a mental health champions training programme for members and the first champions graduated in April. Participants completed a two day training course designed by the SOG and it was run with the assistance of a mental health practitioner. The training gave members the confidence and skills needed to undertake this new role as they help colleagues with mental health problems by directing them to the best available help and support. The feedback has been fantastic and our champions are very enthusiastic to put their new skills into practice.

Mental health problems are much more widespread than people think. One in four people will experience them at some stage in their life, so it is extremely likely that a family member or close colleague at work has been affected. Yet unfortunately, mental health is still surrounded by prejudice, ignorance and fear. The stigma can lead to isolation and exclusion, making it more difficult to recover. This is no way to deal with something that is so common and the truth is that mental well-being is not taken as seriously as physical well-being.

Mental health related problems are frequently caused by difficult situations in the workplace. We know that UK Conservative Government austerity cuts directly lead to very high levels of anxiety for those who lose their jobs and for those remaining, the pressures of being forced to do a lot more work with fewer resources.

This Conference calls upon the National Disabled Members Committee:-

1.encourage other regions within UNISON to consider taking forward this initiative and developing similar schemes in their regions. to encourage an interest in good mental health by education and publicity, particularly in UNISON publications, e.g. ‘You’ and ‘Focus’ magazines.

3.request supportive information to be made available on UNISON’s website.

4.raise the issue through the APF to draw attention to MPs and members of devolved governments the need to fund good mental health services.