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Mental Health Awareness Week 14-20 May 2018

For one week each May, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) campaigns around a specific theme for Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme for this year’s campaign, which runs from 14-20 May, will be “Stress”.

Dave Joyce, CWU's National Health, Safety & Environment Officer has written to all CWU Branches to highlight this year's theme relating to workplace stress. CWU members in Royal Mail, BT, Santander and other companies that the cWU has members; are all facinf very stressful working lives. This ultimately impacts upon home life and can result in severe health and social issues if not recognised and remedial actrion taken early on.

Dave explains:

The Mental Health Foundation, this year is focusing on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.

By tackling stress, we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and, in some instances, self-harm and suicide. The MHF is looking at how we can tackle stress and help improve our mental health.

A new MHF Report “Stress Are We Coping?” has been published and this report looks at the prevalence of stress in the UK and its implications. It also focuses on what we can do to manage and reduce stress and the MHF recommendations for the government in creating a stress-free UK.

Stress often leads to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide. It can also lead to physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease and joint and muscle problems.

How many people are stressed?

The MHF reports that information on how many people in the UK population as a whole are affected by stress is very limited. However, the new MHF survey found that over the past year, almost three quarters (74%) of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

The survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation and undertaken by YouGov, polled 4,169 adults in the UK in 2018.

To explore these figures in more depth, see the full report which can be downloaded from the Unionsafety
E-Library Database along with other mental health documents or direct by clicking on the pic below.

MHF recommendations to the UK Government for less stressed nation are:-

  1. Health and social care professionals should assess and address the psychological and other stressors experienced by people living with long-term physical health conditions.
  2. People presenting to a ‘first point of contact’ service in distress should receive a compassionate and trauma-informed response, regardless of where they live in the country.
  3. Government and the Health & Safety Executive must ensure that employers treat physical and psychological hazards in the workplace equally and help employers recognise and address psychological hazards in the workplace under existing legislation.
  4. Governments across the UK should introduce a minimum of two mental health days for every public sector worker.
  5. Mental health literacy should be a core competency in teacher training. This should be combined with rolling out mental health literacy support for pupils in schools across the UK to embed a ‘whole-school approach’ to mental health and wellbeing.
  6. The government should conduct an impact assessment of welfare reform and austerity programmes on mental health.
  7. More research is needed on the prevalence of stress in the population, and on how the experience of stress can be reduced at the community and societal level.

To explore the recommendations in more depth, see attached full report
The facts and figures around Mental Health in the UK are alarming.

  • 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.
  • Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain.
  • Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men.
  • About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time.
  • Depression affects 1 in 5 older people.
  • Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women.
  • Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population.
  • Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder.

Pic: Mental Health report from Mental Health Foundation - click to downloadPhysical Activity and Wellbeing

Physical activity is often described as something we ‘ought to do’ to avoid developing health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. What’s less often explained is the huge potential it has to enhance happiness and quality of life and reduce mental illness. The 2013 Mental Health Awareness Week theme was physical health and wellbeing and it aimed to shift motivation for physical activity to something we choose to do to increase our wellbeing.

For people in distress or in need immediate help

The Samaritans offer emotional support 24 hours a day, and you can contact them using the following methods:
Call 08457 90 90 90 Or email:

Supporting Your Colleagues At Work

Work is a major part of our lives. It is where we spend much of our time, where we may have most contact with other people, where we make our living and where we sometimes make our friends. Having a fulfilling job is good for your mental health and general wellbeing.

At times people go through tough times at work. Someone you work with may be feeling distressed, saying they are at the end of their tether, experiencing panic attacks or a mental health problem like depression, whether or not they are under a doctor. ‘Emotional crisis’, ‘nervous breakdown’ or ‘mental health problem’ – we may describe these experiences differently, but the important thing is that there are ways that, as colleagues, we can help. However powerless you may feel at first, knowing the basics about how to support a colleague can really help you – and them. Although you can’t solve your colleague’s problems, there are a few simple steps you can take. Support and care can make a huge difference to their ability to cope.

Work-Related Stress

Most of us have felt “stressed out” at one time or another. When this feeling persists day after day, stress becomes chronic. Chronic stress can take a toll on our work, on our quality of life and on our bodies, making us susceptible to a host of illnesses. In fact, what many of us don’t realize—and what medical researchers are confirming in study after study—is that our stress levels are directly linked to our physical well-being. Many of our visits to the GP’s Surgery concern stress-related ailments. Huge numbers of workers are hiding mental health conditions from their employers because they fear it will affect their career. A recent report showed that two out of five have suffered from stress, anxiety or depression in the past year and not told their boss. More than one in four of those surveyed said they had taken a day off sick and claimed that it was for a physical rather than mental health problem. The most common cause of stress was excessive workload, followed by frustration with poor management and long working hours, studies have found. More than half of those polled said their career prospects would be damaged if they were open about stress or anxiety. Younger workers were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or stress, said the report.

Mental Health Foundation – Further Information

The Mental Health Foundation focuses on everyone’s mental health and works across all age ranges – young people, adults and older people – whatever their condition or circumstance. Research and practical evaluation lie at the heart of what they do. This evidence-based approach helps them recognise the key issues affecting the nation’s mental health and wellbeing. The organisation uses this knowledge to:

  • improve policy and practice in mental health
  • campaign to raise awareness and remove stigma
  • provide high quality advice and information to help people better manage their mental health and wellbeing
  • provide practical solutions to improve the quality and access to mental health services in the UK.

For more information go to the Mental Health Foundation Website at:-

Source: CWU / unionsafety

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