Carmen Bezzina, UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for mental health
UNISON last week met with Wales’ mental health minister, Eluned Morgan, to press the case for urgent and comprehensive mental support for any public service worker in need.
The trade union says the Covid pandemic has placed unpreceded pressures on many public service workers and those in the NHS and the care sector in particular, are under severe strain.
There is a concern health service staff who are desperately in need of mental health support are so committed to their jobs providing emergency care for Covid patients, they feel simply unable to step back from their roles to attend welfare appointments.
UNISON has committed to providing the minister with evidence of the extent of the problem and has proposed a working group of all public service trade unions.
Carmen Bezzina, UNISON lead officer for mental health said,
“Public service workers are burnt out from caring for our communities and keeping us safe. NHS employees and care workers face extremely traumatic situations daily.
“They and others such as school support workers, university staff, Police and Community Support Officers, and more, who encounter many members of the public each day, are frightened they will contract Covid and pass it onto their family.
“UNISON wants Welsh government to invest and protect the mental health and well-being of public service workers. Whoever needs that support must be able to access it straight away. There can’t be a waiting list. These people have risked their own welfare for us and we must ensure they are properly cared for.
“We will beat Covid with a vaccine but the mental health recovery will take much longer.”
Minister for mental health and well-being, Eluned Morgan, said,
“We appreciate the vital role public sector workers are playing during the pandemic and the strain they are under every day. I want to pay tribute to everyone who is doing so much to keep the rest of us safe.
“We have invested an extra £1m in our Health for Health Professionals Wales service, which provides support and advice for frontline NHS workers and our Healthy Working Wales programme provides a wide range of Covid-19 resources.
“We’ve also boosted funding for the In Work Support service, which provides counselling and therapeutic services, and the Out of Work Support Service, helping those recovering from mental health issues.”
Notes for editors
- UNISON has long campaigned for a dedicated mental health minister in Wales and for mental health to have parity of importance with physical health.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press and communications officer on 07816 53 83 97