Mental health

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2018 Health Care Service Group Conference
8 December 2017

Mental health services have been underfunded in the UK for a number of years, having a negative impact on both staff and service users. Funding cuts mean that teams are often under resourced, with staff working long hours and struggling to deliver the highest levels of care. Service users are left on long waiting lists or only able to access support when they are at crisis point and their mental health has worsened. Conference notes with concern, that the health and wellbeing of staff is also being placed under increasing pressure, as members feed back that there is often little support provided by their organisation.

UNISON’s “Struggling to cope” mental health report outlining findings from a September 2017 survey of members working in mental health settings, identified that almost 75% of respondents reported feeling stressed at least once a week because of their work. In addition, 48% stated they were either planning to leave their work in mental health, or were thinking about it. The poor working conditions that staff face are resulting in increased turnover, and contributing to the recruitment and retention crisis.

Conference notes publication of UNISON’s mental health resource pack launched earlier this year, as a useful guide for health branches including factsheets on key mental health statistics, advice on running local campaigns, and template letters to MPs.

Staff working in mental health services should feel well supported, in order to be able to provide the best help to those who need it most. UNISON continues to highlight the increased demand for services, worsening health and wellbeing of staff, and the impact this has on service users.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)recognise the recruitment and retention crisis in mental health

2)promote the mental health resource pack and other materials available to health branches

3)undertake research exploring the current turnover rates of mental health staff, and what action can be taken by employers to ensure staff want to join and remain working in mental health.