Young Women’s Mental Health

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2023 National Women's Conference
14 October 2022

Conference notes that in recent statistics published by the Office for National Statistics, in England and Wales rates of suicide amongst women aged 24 and under has seen the largest increase since records began in 1981.

Although the reasons for this increase are not clear, conference notes that in an article by Mind, published in September 2022, it was recognized that young people were amongst those most affected by isolation and loneliness during the pandemic, and that women are more likely to have experienced traumatic events such as abuse, and are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems.

As two thirds of UNISON members are women, Conference believes that UNISON young women members are being disproportionately affected by mental health problems and notes that a recent survey of young members found over 81% has experienced a mental health problem in the last year. The main problems reported by young members were depression (88.2%) and anxiety (87.1%). Young members reported that over half of these problems were related to their work, with over two thirds saying they often felt stressed at work, with a similar proportion reporting that they “find it difficult to switch off from work at the end of the day”.

Conference calls on the National Womens’ Committee to:

• Work with Regional women’s committees and branches to encourage employers to prioritise young women’s mental health and campaign to improve mental health policies at work.

• Work with UNISON national young members committee in conjunction with Unison national health service group executive on a campaign to raise awareness of the Young Workers Charter, to improve terms and conditions at work and achieve the priorities set by young women members.

• Work with UNISON Learning and Organising Services to develop training for activists and members on supporting young women members with their mental health problems and improving mental health practices within the workplace.