The Socialist 1 November 2017 |
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300,000 a year forced to leave work
Unions must fight workplace mental health crisis
Jac McAllister-Green, Northampton Socialist Party
Workers with mental health problems are leaving their workplaces at a rate of up to 300,000 a year.
For those of us who have suffered with poor mental health, the findings of the government's 'Thriving at Work' report are unsurprising.
Work is becoming more stressful. The financial uncertainty and instability of poverty pay, zero-hour or other insecure contracts, and bullying management is becoming more apparent.
Too many of us cannot cope with conditions in our workplaces. We are effectively forced into leaving jobs, finding ourselves at the mercy of a punishing 'welfare' system.
I have experienced this first-hand in more than one previous workplace. I can state with conviction it has a deleterious effect on your confidence. It makes you question your ability to do the job.
I was subject to workplace bullying in a public sector role. I was forced to explain bouts of absence to my colleagues - the presumption being my mental health issues were insignificant.
At the time, I was homeless, having been made redundant from another public sector job and unable to keep up with increasing living costs. I was sofa-surfing at friends' houses for a number of months.
My story is by no means unique. This is an all too common occurrence in austerity Britain. After five months, I was out of work once more.
6% of people with long-term mental health conditions move from employment to unemployment each quarter. For long-term physical conditions it's 3.5%.
On top of the huge human cost, the report attributes an economic cost of up to £99 billion a year to failure to support those with mental health problems.
The Socialist Party fights for full funding for the NHS, including massive expansion of mental health facilities, and an end to bullying and insecure work. There can be no doubt the rapid deterioration of morale in workplaces across the country is due to the draconian policies of the Tories and Blairites.
Increasingly, people have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes even that is not enough to cope with rising living costs. Claimants of in-work benefits are also on the rise. It is simply unacceptable that we are forced into this situation.
The Socialist Party campaigns within trade unions for effective action against poor pay and conditions, and for coordinated strikes to bring down this bosses' government.
The situation will only improve with a leadership willing to bring workers together to fight, demanding decent conditions and the right to real support at work.
- Socialism 2017 (11 and 12 November, central London)
Discussions include: mental health and young people - how would socialism be different?