Supporting members with mental health problems

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2019 Higher Education Service Group Conference
19 September 2018

Conference is aware of the increasing need to support members who are experiencing either short or long-term mental health conditions.

Despite the good work already being done by branches in enacting conference policies – such as encouraging employers to sign up to Time to Change, or become Mindful employers – there is a great deal of fear from those experiencing mental ill health conditions that they may suffer a detriment as a result of disclosing a condition. Additionally some activists have expressed concerns of feeling out of “their depth” when it comes to understanding mental health conditions and how best to support members.

Conference welcomes the Universities UK (UUK) “#stepchange” incentive and the concept of a whole university approach supporting students and staff alike.

However, as can often be the case within the sector, the focus can become solely about students; ignoring staff need. Mental ill health does not discriminate and has no regard for age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or if you are a student, employee or activist. Conference believes that our employers should not discriminate in their approach to support for mental health conditions.

Therefore, conference calls upon the Higher Education Service Group Executive to:

1)Encourage branches to continue to seek active involvement in their own institutions enactment of the #stepchange initiative.

2)Campaign for trade union representatives to be part of the UUK Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Working Group to ensure there is a staff voice.

3)Circulate to branches UNISON guidance on supporting members with mental health condition and available training courses. Where these do not exist, seek to work with the National Executive Committee in the development of materials and courses.

4)Run a training session at the next Branch seminar on supporting activists to help members with mental health conditions