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.
This is why we are 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.
UNISON supports the Nursing Times Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the potential long-term impact of working through the COVID-19 crisis on nurses’ mental health and wellbeing (and that of other staff and pre-registration students), and to ensure they have access to sources of formal and/or informal support.