Unite, which represents mental health nurses and applied psychologists, welcomed the findings of the ‘Thriving at Work’ report but stepped up calls for government to reverse cuts in mental health services and start properly funding services.
The ‘Thriving at Work’ report found that 300,000 people have to leave work every year because of long-term mental health problems and poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99 billion a year.
Despite the government welcoming the report and the prime minister calling on the civil service and the NHS to accept its findings, there has been no indication that additional resources will be made available to tackle the challenges the report has uncovered.
Unite, which embraces the Mental Health Nurses Association (MHNA), has previously warned that staff are at risk of burn out after detentions under the Mental Health Act increased by 26 per cent between 2012/13 to 2015/16. The challenge to the service has been made even greater as since 2010 the number of mental health nurses has decreased by 6,610 nurses (a 15 per cent decrease).
In July the government announced plans to increase the number of extra crisis care nurses by 4,600 however these posts will not fully replace the number of jobs that have been lost and nor do they take into account the increase in the population.
A recent survey of applied psychologists, who are represented by Unite, and who treat mental health sufferers through therapy, found that 76 per cent of them reported they frequently suffered staff shortages and 82 per cent reported that their workload had increased in the last year.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The findings of the ‘Thriving at Work’ report should be fully welcomed as it demonstrates the scale of the mental health challenge facing the UK.
“It is all very well the government welcoming the report but ministers need to invest in mental health services which have been cut to the bone since 2010.”
Dave Munday lead professional officer for mental health at Unite said: “Unless action is taken to reduce workloads and the public sector pay cap is lifted, dedicated and skilled mental health professionals will continue to vote with their feet and leave the NHS. This will only make the deepening mental health crisis worse.
“Mental health staff are continually papering over the cracks and holding the service together but such unselfish commitment can only last so long, staff are at risk of burn out and making themselves ill.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.