Speaking to the Conference, Nick Ireland –
Usdaw’s Divisional Officer for South Wales said: ‘It is no surprise
that mental health and work related stress problems are on the
increase. Times are tough and in the current economic climate many
workers are taking time off work due to stress, depression or
anxiety. These illnesses are often invisible and rarely talked
‘Research by the mental health charity Mind
Cymru has shown that although one in five workers has taken a day
off sick for stress. 90% of these workers gave their employer a
different reason for their absence.
‘There is no doubt that a culture of fear
and silence exists when it comes to mental health issues. That’s
why Usdaw is campaigning to raise awareness in the workplace.
‘For so many people actually talking to
someone is the first step towards their recovery and sometimes that
person is their union rep. So it’s absolutely right that the Trade
Union movement leads the way in breaking down these barriers,
because Union reps can really make a difference.
‘Employers have a responsibility, legally
and morally, to identify the risks, take action and ensure that
workers are not discriminated against because of a mental health
condition. There is a strong economic argument for creating a
positive working culture, which promotes mental well-being. It’s
estimated that mental health absence and related reduced
productivity costs the Welsh economy £1.2 billion every year.
‘There needs to be better support and
resources for employers to help them deal with these complex
issues. Work is such a big part of people’s lives. So the Welsh
Government should sharpen its focus on workplaces as part of the
wider mental health strategy, leading to a culture where people are
supported at work and employers understand that mental wellbeing is
as important as physical wellbeing.
‘More than anything, we must remove the
stigma around mental health problems. We can only do this by
working together to raise awareness, so that people no longer
suffer in silence.’
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive
and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the
fastest growing trade union with over 427,000 members. Membership
has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly
a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail
sector, but the Union also has many members in transport,
distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
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