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Mental health services across the UK are struggling as a result of chronic underfunding and increased demand. This is having a negative effect on people who use these services and on the health and wellbeing of the staff who provide them.

UNISON is the largest union in the NHS and we believe there should be proper investment and support for vital mental health services.

World mental health day – 10 October

UNISON is encouraging branches to raise awareness about mental health day on 10 October, by planning events where possible and ordering campaign materials.

Ideas in the run up to the day

  • Use the week to highlight your local mental health campaign
  • Arrange a coffee morning to raise awareness and fundraise
  • Organise drop in stalls with a staff rota, where other members can find out about the various roles of staff who work in mental health settings/support those with mental health problems
  • Invite your local MP to visit your planned events, so they can see the important role staff play in keeping mental health services running all year round
  • Be sure to tag @unisonournhs on twitter with any social media posts. Use #worldmentalhealthday
  • Order resources available from the UNISON stock catalogue as part of the union’s national mental health matters campaign. Search “mental health” for mugs, T- shirts and more


Stigma around mental health must end, says UNISON

Employers urged to ‘take real action’ to support staff

Working in mental health: the problems in five charts

It’s world mental health day this Tuesday (10 October) so to mark the occasion we’re looking at some data that shows what’s happening to mental health service users

Cuts to mental health leave staff facing violence and aggression, says UNISON

New UNISON survey of staff working in mental health services

Conference pledges mental health support for members

We should all be mental health champions, delegates hear as they call for expansion of programme started by Cymru/Wales

’It’s the workplace that needs to change, not the person’

Conference pledges action to tackle growing problem of mental health issues for local government workers facing pressures driven by austerity, cuts and growing demand for the services they provide

The issue

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