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Struggling to cope: Mental health staff and services under pressure

UNISON’s survey report of mental health staff 2017

Mental health services are increasingly under scrutiny, with one in four people across the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year1. Mental health has been rising up the political agenda in recent years. Politicians from all of the parties have begun to realise the prevalence of mental health problems, and the growing need for more to be done to provide help to those that need it.

But throughout all this, there is a danger that the voices of those who provide the services are forgotten or ignored. UNISON wants to ensure that mental health staff are listened to and heard. So this year UNISON undertook a survey of its members working in mental health.

Our survey results make for grim reading. They reveal that mental health services have been hit hard by cuts to NHS funding, which has a damaging effect on service users and staff. Service users have been left struggling to access the help they need, while mental health staff working in under-resourced areas are left vulnerable to violence and aggression, and unable to provide the level of care needed. Our survey results also show that an overwhelming majority of staff report feeling work-related stress frequently, with many suffering so much that they have had to take time off work.

UNISON is campaigning for fair funding for mental health. Staff must be able to deliver quality services and carry out their jobs in an environment that looks after their own mental and physical health too.