Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1035/28903
Reader's comment: mental health under capitalism
Max McGee, Nuneaton Socialist Party
The way capitalism manages the collective mental health of workers is a method that eats its own tail.
The casualisation of labour, the Orwellian production quotas, the disdain with which big business greets the alienation of its workforce, combine to produce an increasingly dystopian reality of life and health under this system.
With capitalism offering no realistic solution to a dying planet, this sense of powerlessness is multi-faceted. That is part of how the market makes us sick.
Workers in Britain and across the globe are engaged in a draconian 'race to the bottom', economically coerced into selling our labour for the lowest price in the market.
The mental impact of this burnout culture is often overlooked by the bosses, as it is not in the nature of big corporations to care for any motive other than profit.
According to the most recent National Employee Mental Health Survey, at any one point, one in six of the working-age population is suffering from a mental health condition.
Last year, stress accounted for 43% of all working days lost due to ill health and for 34% of all work-related ill health cases.
Yet, when asked by their employers, 95% of employees cited a reason other than workplace stress for their absence due to stigma and possible blacklisting.
When attempting to explain mental health it is vital to look at the capitalist system. There is often a refusal to recognise the significance of economic conditions in education, health and the workplace. There is often a refusal to look at the underlying causes of mental ill health.
According to the Mental Health Research Charity 75% of mental illnesses begin in childhood. Yet many schools report funding cuts have meant school counsellors and pastoral care specialists are no longer being employed, while 50% of mental health problems in adult life take root before the age of 15.
What needs to be factored in is that capitalist austerity means these problems are not being tackled pre-emptively. It is vital to understand that physical and mental health do not exist in a vacuum.
At surface level, it may seem that these systemic problems of capitalism are all-powerful and all-encompassing, but it is through a socialist alternative and a democratic planned economy, controlled by the working class, that the root cause of these problems can and will be removed.
The Socialist Party says
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 mental health crisis in workplaces and communities 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. Benefits are under attack through Universal Credit and cuts.
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.
In The Socialist 27 March 2019:
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