10 October - Mental Health Day

01 October 2017

(Article by ASLEF's IAN BECKETT, taken from the ASLEF Journal October 2017)


Mental health problems cost UK employers £30 billion a year in lost production, recruitment and absence. So why aren’t we doing more about it? And why are we so reluctant to talk about the subject?

Despite the fact that one in four of us will suffer some kind of mental health problem during our lives it’s a subject we find difficult to talk about. Mental illhealth is considered too personal, too deep and too complex to talk to your partner about, or friend, union rep, your GP; let alone your boss.

The Centre for Mental Health estimates that employers should be able to cut the cost of mental health by one-third by improving the management of mental health at work. So why don’t they? Because they have yet to fully understand the problem and that prevents them from producing the correct strategies. This is where trade unions like ASLEF have a role to play (and we’ve started!)

For six years ASLEF Education has run a number of 12-week distance learning courses in a wide range of mental health areas, from general awareness to subjects such as autism, dementia and counselling. Members have found them invaluable. They are not designed to make you an expert, but they do provide you with knowledge you can share and who, where and when to signpost people for professional support. Want to know more? Speak to your ULR.

Encouraging people to talk about mental health problems is the foundation stone of necessary change. Education builds on and strengthens those foundations. Ultimately, though, we need to persuade the government to stop treating mental health as a Cinderella service and give it the resources that will not only change lives but save lives.



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