Why does mental health matter to workers and unions?
Mental health matters to workers and unions because it affects our members and their families. Most people know someone with a mental health challenge.
Better mental health care, an end to discrimination against people with mental illness, and equitable work opportunities are human rights issues. Some mental illnesses also affect equity-seeking groups disproportionately—so mental health plays an important role in the fight for justice.
When it comes to the workplace, mental illnesses account for about a third of all disability claims. Fighting for better mental health care can help to keep workers in their jobs and prevent mental illnesses from occurring in the first place by challenging systemic issues in the workplace and the broader society.
There has been a lot of work in recent years to get people talking about mental illness. That’s a good thing. But part of what is missing from that conversation – and part of what unions can bring – is the broader social collective context and how it affects workers and workplaces.