Mental health services are struggling to cope with unprecedented demand while, at the same time facing cuts and chronic underfunding.
UNISON welcomes the extra funding that government has committed to invest in mental health services , but is concerned that many parts of the NHS still seem to be cutting back on mental health spending.
We want the government to ensure that, at a time when NHS finances are extremely tight, extra mental health funding reaches the services and patients it is intended for. Without it people will not get the services they need and staff won’t get the support and time to do their jobs effectively.
UNISON members are at the sharp end of providing mental health services and they are being pushed to limits which mean they are struggling to cope They work in a variety of roles including as mental health nurses, social workers, psychotherapists and in administration.
In a recent survey which got over 1,100 responses UNISON members told us they regularly work unpaid overtime, they feel their organisation has faced cuts and as a result a large majority are facing an increase in their workload which makes it difficult for them to provide effective services. This leads to staff feeling more stressed and undervalued which in turn affects the job they do.
This is impacting on users too with many staff reporting an increase in waiting times for services and less access to services generally.
What needs to change
Our members care passionately about the services they provide and want to see mental health services that are properly resourced, where staff and employers work together to tackle the stigma that is often associated with mental health. UNISON wants the wellbeing and mental health of staff to be recognised as important too, not just for staff themselves but for the quality of the services provided.
Therefore UNISON is calling for
Fair funding from government for mental health services
Mental health workers in under-resourced teams see the impact of cuts to services firsthand. The result is increased waiting times and undervalued staff. UNISON wants to see fair funding from government, and assurances that money allocated to mental health services gets through to services and patients as intended.
Improved training for mental health workers
A well-trained workforce can deliver the highest standards of care. Better support and training for staff must be a priority for employers to help staff feel confident in their ability to provide the best support to each individual.
Support for the mental health and wellbeing of staff
Employers need to take action to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff in mental health settings. Mental health staff are passionate about the work that they do but increased workloads, under-resourced teams, and ever increasing pressure has a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of staff. This impacts on service users too as there is evidence that shows that healthy staff are able to deliver better care.
Commitment to tackle stigma around mental health
UNISON is calling for greater commitment from government to help the NHS tackle the stigma around mental health. People experiencing mental health issues should not feel ashamed to seek support, and action needs to be taken to recognise the impact that a positive approach to mental health can have