Mental Health Awareness week: employers need to recognise their responsibility for workers’ mental health

Jackie PollockOne in five Northern Ireland workers suffer some form of mental health problem – 25% more than in England

Unite to seek adoption of Equality Commission’s Mental Health Charter as part of all future Northern Ireland workplace pay claims

May 13th: Unite Regional Secretary in Ireland, Jackie Pollock, used the start of Mental Health Awareness week to launch his union’s demand that bosses sign up to the Mental Health Charter as a part of all future pay claims.

“Mental health is an issue that can affect any one of us. Unfortunately, the evidence is that in today’s ever more pressurised and socially atomised world, there has been a rapid growth in the numbers afflicted by mental health difficulties. It is estimated that at least one in five in Northern Ireland suffer some form of mental health problem. That is approximately 25% higher than the figure in England.

“More women suffer from mental health problems, with the proportion suffering from difficulties peaking in the mid-working life decades, particularly from 45-54, although younger men aged between 25-34 are almost as likely to suffer from difficulties. Suicide rates, often associated with mental health difficulties, are highest among young, single men of working-age.

“This is an issue of huge significance for trade unions as it affects our members disproportionately.

“This week Unite will seek to highlight different aspects of the challenge that is posed by mental health. From today we will include adoption of the Equality Commission’s Mental Health Charter in all future pay claims made in Northern Ireland. This Charter represents best practice in addressing this issue in the workplace, and it is the workplace where problems often first come to light.

“The Charter charges employers with the role of supporting their employees and being proactive with any mental health difficulties that arise; it also sees a vital role for trade union reps in identifying problems and signposting onwards. Already management in Hyster-Yale in Craigavon have adopted the Mental Health Charter. Now’s the time for all employers to step up to the plate on Mental Health”, Mr Pollock said.

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