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World Mental Health Day

“GMB are not only aware of the importance of Mental Health…In ALL its forms…they are working to change the way mental ill health is viewed”

This Saturday marks World Mental day. One of our brilliant members Simon, has shared why it’s important to talk about Mental Health

You may not realise it but the person next to you may have a mental health issue. They may be struggling to manage. Have you noticed someone who is quiet, someone who sits alone, someone who doesn’t engage with the “office gossip”? Have you thought that person never smiles. They hardly talk to anyone.

Have you actually taken the time to think that they may have their own Mental Health troubles?

It may have taken all their energy just to get up and dressed this morning. They may be so drained from gearing up for the day ahead that there is no energy to interact……or.…. perhaps, just maybe they are waiting for you to interact first.

This is not a generalised account of how mental ill health affects workers, this is my story and as World Mental Health day approaches (Saturday 10th October) I want to share how it affects me.

I struggle with my mental health on a daily basis in the form of depression. At one point, I didn’t wash for 2 weeks. I hardly ate or slept. I attempted suicide. It has taken me a long time, but I have learned to cope and manage and I need medication to help me with this.

Anti-depressants are NOT what some call “Happy Pills”. They bring you up to a level where you can cope with the day. They help me get up and shower on a morning. They help me get out of the house. That can be a fight for many people.

I have “LOW” times which can last a day, they can also last 20 minutes. Yet for so long I felt unable to tell my colleagues about this and many thought I was boring or unsociable just because I was sitting quietly, but inside I was screaming – This is how I cope.

For too many, the thought of dealing with an employee with mental ill health is scary and I understand this but telling someone to “Have a few beers and you’ll be fine” or “You need a holiday” DOES NOT WORK!! These stock sayings can make someone worse.

If you think someone is suffering, try approaching them. Treat them as you would another person. Talk to them. Ask if there is something you can do to help. Just having a chat could be the thing that makes all the difference to that person, it really helps me.

1 in 4 of us experience mental ill health every year and at any given time, 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with mental ill health and employers need to recognise this.

  • All workplaces should have robust policies in place to support their staff when they need it most,
  • to encourage conversations around mental health to break the stigma often associated with mental illness
  • and provide access to trained mental health professionals through employee assistance programmes.

I am pleased that by working with Unions, my employer committed to taking mental health seriously by signing up to the time to change employer pledge.

This is why I am proud to be a GMB member, I know that there are people in my Union that will fight for my right to work without fear or prejudice, I know that there are people in my branch that I can talk to without judgement and I know that GMB are not only aware of the importance of Mental Health…In ALL its forms…they are working to change the way mental ill health is viewed, they are helping. Just knowing someone is there has helped me through some low times at work.

Mental ill Health is real. It can be a killer. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. A bit like Oxygen.

You will be surprised just how many people around you have Mental Health issues of one form or another. The GMB Union recognises that mental health is as important as physical health and understand that some groups are more likely to be affected by mental ill health because of discrimination, social inequality and disadvantages in and out of the workplace.

If you feel you are struggling, then talk to someone. Talk to a counsellor, talk to a friend, talk to a colleague…That one 10 minute talk could be the one thing that helps someone carry on.

Try it, Do one thing for better mental health.

You can find useful information in our GMB Union mental health guide

Always remember; you are not alone – there are lots of things you can do and organisations that can help.

Here you will find various links for you to get advice and training on a range of mental health issues.


Posted: 8th October 2020

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