Health & Safety

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World Mental Health Day 2017

9 October 2017

10 October 2017 marks the 25th annual World Mental Health Day. This year it’s all about ‘mental health at work’.

World Mental Health Day is the annual global celebration of mental health education, awareness and advocacy. Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017. World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health.

Each year we, the CWU support this important awareness day, founded by the World Federation for Mental Health to join people together across the world to campaign for change around mental health.

This year’s theme couldn’t come a moment too soon – mental health issues such as stress, depression and anxiety are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society. Employers increasingly need to recognise mental health as a vital part of a healthy, productive working environment.

So this World Mental Health Day, we’re supporting the call for organisations and employers to take a look at their wellbeing strategy and take steps to improve the mental health of their workplaces and work with the Union to create healthier workplaces with sustainable policies.

During our adult lives, a large proportion of our time is spent at work. Our experience in the workplace is one of the factors determining our overall wellbeing. Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work. A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.

Depression and anxiety disorders are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety

disorders. Many of these people live with both. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity

To help mark the occasion, we’re raising awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with mental health problems can live with dignity. This is not just about this one day, which is a focal point. This is very much an ongoing issue of importance.

The problem

One in four adults and one in ten children are likely to have a mental health problem in any given year. This can have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people in the UK, and can affect their ability to sustain relationships, work, or just get through the day. But an ill-informed and damaging attitude among some people exists around mental health that can make it difficult for some to seek help. It is estimated that only about a quarter of people with a mental health problem in the UK receive ongoing treatment, leaving the majority of people grappling with mental health issues on their own, seeking help or information, and dependent on the informal support of family, friends or colleagues.

How can we challenge this?

World Mental Health Day helps focus on confronting this stigma through facts. Facts that help us understand patterns of mental health problems, their causes and solutions. Facts that help us break down barriers in seeking help and support.

What is the long-term answer?

The best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. For example, by raising awareness, providing the right information, guidance and support as well as guidance and support in childhood and adolescence, the chances of developing mental health problems can be reduced for millions of people over a lifetime. This focus on prevention is in part about what we can all do to safeguard our wellbeing, but is also about tackling the social and economic inequalities that can lead to a higher prevalence of mental health problems.

How can you help?

The World Mental Health Day message is the belief that effectively supporting people experiencing mental health problems is on target to become one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Stigmatising and discriminatory treatment can be particularly distressing when a person is experiencing a health crisis. We all have mental health and by failing to treat people with mental health problems with dignity we make it more difficult to ensure that everyone takes steps to safeguard their wellbeing and to seek help, as it can lead to self-stigma, low confidence, low self-esteem, withdrawal and social isolation.