Another month, another edition of On The Move prominently featuring mental health issues. We're glad LU is giving a platform to discussions about mental health, but words are not enough. Often, the message doesn't seem to filtering down to the shop floor.
Almost all union reps, and far too many members, will have had direct experience of being involved in case conferences or other attendance-related meetings where the manager's attitude to mental health amounts to a thinly veiled "pull yourself together". All too common are demands for fixed time-frames for being able to return to full duties when we've been off with a mental health related issue, as if we can say, "yes, I'll be cured of depression or anxiety in two weeks."
Within an increasingly corporate culture based on austerity budgets, our employer sees us as numbers on spreadsheet to make sure stations stay open, trains are driven, projects are worked on, and targets are hit. As much as it likes to claim it's taking a sensitive and constructive attitude to mental health, actually giving us the time and support we need to manage our mental health problems is all too often sacrificed on the altar of "business needs".
And this is to say nothing of the wider reality that the general way in which many managers treat their staff is itself a factor in damaging our mental health, leading to wider problems.
We'll be more inclined to take the On The Move articles seriously when we see this culture changing on the ground.