'We cannot stand by while members suffer'

Mental health dominates health and safety debate at policy conference

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Mental health dominated the discussion of health and safety on Monday (October 18), with a number of Unite delegates making contributions in the debate.

Unite delegate Taj Salam (pictured above) moved a motion on mental health in the workplace, which highlights the acute lack of access to mental health services and facilities provided by employers.

The motion noted that Unite “cannot stand by and allow members to suffer, often in silence, when these facilities and services are not available or accessible in the workplace” and called on Unite to offer and resource mental health support for members in need.

Moving the motion, Taj highlighted the mental health issues many men face, noting that three-quarters of all suicides were men, and that middle aged men were most at risk.

Speaking in support, Unite delegate Trevor Simpson of London and Eastern region (pictured below) highlighted the high number of lorry drivers with mental ill health, while Unite delegate Mike Ward spoke of the terrible dangers facing food workers which can impact mental health.

Unite delegate Debbie Wilkinson (pictured below) meanwhile spoke of the importance of mental health issues being considered just as important as physical health, while Unite delegate Paul Mooney of Scotland highlighted why it was vital that reps looking after members with mental health issues are supported as well.

A number of delegates spoke of their own personal experiences with mental health in the workplace. Unite delegate Ade Bamgboye of the South West region made a powerful contribution where he told of losing a colleague to suicide and said it was vital that employers are urged to do more to support workers.

“Mental health is not something we can take lightly,” he said, calling for support of the motion, which was overwhelmingly carried.

By Hajera Blagg

Pics by Mark Thomas

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