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Sheffield mental health campaigner: "austerity kills"
Mental health campaigner and Socialist Party member Tim Jones, photo by Nigel Newton-Smith (Click to enlarge)
Socialist Party member Tim Jones spoke at Sheffield Trades Council's International Workers Memorial Day commemoration on 29 April on behalf of Mental Health Action Group Sheffield (MHAGS).
"Austerity kills," said Tim. "A month ago I was in a car coming back from trade union leafleting when I saw a man's body hit the road on Park Square roundabout after he had thrown himself off the bridge.
"A week later, Ali Hassan died of his injuries. He was suffering from mental health illness and had been admitted to hospital the night before but discharged in the morning. If the hospital had more beds, more staff and more resources, then maybe Ali would have been kept in, received treatment and never attempted suicide.
"25 years ago I set up MHAGS - which runs a user-led day centre for people with mental health issues.
"The biggest cause of mental health issues today is work-related stress, anxiety and depression. Last year, a TUC study found a worker in Britain is made ill through stress at work every two minutes!
"The Health and Safety Executive reported nearly 500,000 cases of work-related stress last year - accounting for 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.
"Women are more affected than men and stress-related illness is greatest among nurses and midwives, teachers and welfare professionals such as care workers and social workers.
"These are precisely the sections of workers who have been most affected by austerity cuts.
"What should the trade unions do about this? Well a few weeks ago, 250 posties walked out on unofficial strike in Doncaster against bullying management after one of their colleagues who was off sick with stress was sacked. Their strike forced management to climb down, review procedures and move the offending manager out of the depot.
"Mental health affects individuals but the causes of workplace stress, anxiety and depression, demand a collective response from our trade unions. The fight against bullying managers, against increased workloads, against austerity, and against the Tories is the fight for better mental health."