Mental Health: beyond awareness

Published on PCS blog, 17 May 2018:

In Mental Health Awareness Week, Janine warns that we need to be more than just aware, but prepared to take action on mental health.

Many organisations are now promoting ‘mental health awareness’. That is helpful as far as it goes, but I would like to argue that we go beyond awareness and start taking action for change.

It is helpful for more people to be aware of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems. But we don’t just want to know about mental distress, we want to stop mental distress – or at the very least reduce it.

Employers may circulate posters, hold coffee mornings or run lunchtime awareness events. But if they are making us work long, anti-social hours, or deal with distressing personal cases without support, or putting us under pressure of unreasonable targets, or allowing managers to bully us, or disciplining us for being ill, then they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Of course, not all mental health problems are caused by working conditions, but a fair few are, and a fair few more are made worse by the way that our workplaces operate. More humane working conditions – shorter hours, more control by workers, less hierarchy, more job security – would give a significant boost to mental well-being.

One awareness campaign tells us that ‘It is OK to not be OK’. Well yes, it is. But it is not OK that so many people are not OK. So let’s go beyond raising awareness and start raising our voices and raising demands.


Snap out of taking orders
Snap out of blame
Snap out of ‘disorders’
Snap out of shame
Snap out of austerity
Snap out of stressors
Snap out of poverty
Snap out of pressures
Snap out of ‘raising awareness’
and start raising hell
This system’s sick
It isn’t well

Clench your fists and bite your lip
Never let your clown face slip
Get a grip on broken minds and
Ask yourself what is breaking them
Get a grip on that banner pole
On that placard stick
Stop the traffic
Shout and kick
Take my tip
Get a grip

Chill out
Never spit your pill out
Chin up, toughen up, man up
Pull every little thing you can up
Raise your hand up
Make your point and stand up

Pull our allies together
Pull our demands together
Pull our hands and arms together
Pull together all our resources
Our battling and campaigning forces
Solidarity forever
Pull ourselves together

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