Campaign To Tackle Mental Health Discrimination

10 November 2015, 06:00

Employers must change workplace culture and help end mental health discrimination because many staff have serious concerns over speaking out about their problems, according to campaigners.

See Me, the national programme to end mental health discrimination, has launched a new campaign aimed at making those who are struggling feel safe enough to talk about any issues with their employer and colleagues.

It comes after a survey earlier this year found almost half of Scottish workers think people in their organisation would not speak about their mental health for fear of discrimination from their colleagues.

The YouGov survey of 1,165 Scottish workers also found almost half disagreed that someone in their work would be well supported by management, who are trained to help and advise people with mental health problems.

Of those who responded, almost a third said they had personally experienced a mental health problem.

See Me said the figures demonstrate that workers have serious concerns about talking about their mental health.

Organisations are being encouraged to join the See Me in Work programme, which works with employers to create inclusive and welcoming cultures where there is a good understanding of mental health.

The programme also looks at how much money companies could save by improving the mental health of their employees, reducing absences and staff turnover.

Meanwhile, The Power of Okay campaign includes a poem that will appear on cinema screens about the isolation people feel when they cannot speak out at work.

Ian Greenhill wrote and performed the poem, based on his own experiences, and also directed and produced the video with partner Jordan Laird.

He said: "I personally think it's important to start the discussion about mental health and the simple start-off point of 'okay' seemed really powerful.

"We just want a discussion to be started rather than people being scared of saying the wrong thing and just not saying anything.''

Judith Robertson, See Me programme director, said: "You don't have to be an expert to speak about mental health, just asking someone if they are okay can be a powerful thing.

"In the workplace, there needs to be enough trust and openness for people with mental health problems to feel confident enough to talk, without the fear that they will be stigmatised and discriminated against.

"It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of a mental health condition, but if people don't feel they will be supported by management, as the figures show, then people won't be able to speak about important issues.''