Mental Health and the Workplace

According to the former Equality Authority the greatest barrier that employees and potential employees with experience of mental health difficulties encounter is the attitudes that others have towards mental health difficulties. If they lack knowledge or understanding about a disability or mental health condition, employers and co-workers may have fears and concerns. Unfortunately, that lack of knowledge or understanding can manifest as prejudice or bias against employees with disabilities, including employees with experience of mental health difficulties. As part of the European Week for Safety and Health at Work, Congress therefore decided, with the support of the Health and Safety Authority, to organise this seminar (21 October 2014) in order to increase awareness among trade union officials and activists of the issues arising from mental health and as a result begin mapping the supports, training and guidelines that Trade Unions need to put in place to support members and activists who experience these issues.
Dil Wickremasinghe, Broadcaster & Journalist, chaired proceedings and in her opening remarks, said that "the workplace is the final frontier in our journey towards breaking down stigma in Ireland. Conversations are happening around kitchen tables, in classrooms, in communities, at national level in the corridors of power and in the media. However, for a long time I have been very aware at the lack of conversations about mental health in the workplace. Is it any wonder as after all the recession has made people very wary about letting their mask slip and showing their vulnerability at work. However, stigma in the workplace existed way before the recession but it just got worse as the recession brought the fear of losing ones job and livelihood".

Brenda and EmilyBrenda O Brien, OSHA and Emily Logan, IHRECBrenda O’Brien, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work presented on their European wide campaign on managing stress in the workplace - Healthy Workplace Manage Stress. The Managing Stress and Psychosocial risks E guide is here

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission presented on...... You can access Equality Authority booklets on your equality rights at work here

Ciara Miley from See Change presented on their Workplace activities;

Patricia Murray, (HSA) Health and Safety Authority presented on reducing exposure to stress at work;

Kahlil Thompson Coyle, National office of Suicide Prevention, spoke to delegates about the new National campaign launched on Monday 20 October - Little Things

and, Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant General Secretary, ICTU gave a trade union perspective on the issues;

A Panel Discussion followed during which many requests for ongoing training and supports were made.

On Twitter: #EUmanagestress #Littlethings;

Useful Resources:

TUC: Representing members with mental health difficulties - here

Good workplace practices can spot and resolve mental health issues, says TUC

Unions can be to the fore in tackling mental health in the workplace issues

Workplace and campaigners' guides, wellbeing tips and other resources visit MIND's Mental health at work pages.

The TUC and many unions publish advice for union officers and reps in dealing with the increasing problems of mental ill-health at work and the prejudice and discrimination that people with mental health problems continue to face. TUC has published (October 2012) an updated guide to the wide range of advice now available. Trade Unions and Mental Health: a resource list,

IHREC - your issue is mental health

See Change suite of workplace materials launched September 2014:

Mental ill-health at the workplace: Don’t let stigma be our guide (ILO)

Mental Health and Well Being: a line managers guide (IBEC)