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The campaign calls for fair funding from government. Our members have told us very clearly that issues around funding have a frequent knock on effect on other factors, resulting in it becoming more difficult to provide effective services.
The mental health and wellbeing of staff providing services must also be taken into account. In a survey conducted by UNISON last year, we discovered that over 60% of respondents thought their organisation did not look after the wellbeing of its staff. We believe that employers need to take action, and must recognise that healthy staff are able to deliver better care.
Our survey of members working in mental health settings, perhaps unsurprisingly, also told us that a large number of staff are feeling undervalued. Funding cuts have meant that smaller teams now manage larger workloads, increasing work-related stress. Sadly, the impact of cuts also negatively affects service users. Again, respondents fed back that some service users were only accessing services when they had reached crisis point.
The stigma that often exists around mental health prevents many from engaging in conversations on the topic, and leaves them feeling ashamed. Our campaign calls for a commitment from the UK Government to help the National Health Service tackle the stigma around mental health.
As the largest unison within the NHS, UNISON believes there should be proper investment for these vital services. We will continue to campaign, to ensure that the Government listens and acts, allowing for a well-trained workforce with staff confident in their ability to provide the best support for each individual; and giving service users access to the support they need.
We have produced materials, including a resource pack available to union branches, that will help support the work of local campaigns. We are asking members to help place pressure on the Government by writing to their MP, asking them to sign an Early Day Motion calling for fair funding for mental health services. More information about UNISON’s Mental Health Matters campaign : http://www.unison.org.uk/mentalhealth