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Low paid workers offered counselling

Mental health issues affect around two thirds of the population, with many suffering in silence. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year's theme is ‘surviving to thriving’. This gives us the chance to highlight how issues around pay and conditions and workplace stress can affect our daily lives.

The pressure to hold onto our jobs, manage our family life, and pay our bills can sometimes threaten to overwhelm us. Financial pressures play a massive part in poor mental health and housing association Family Mosaic has announced that in response to the pressures resulting from low pay they will “offer our staff the services we previously provided exclusively to our tenants.” The move forms part of the associations contribution to Mental Health Awareness Week.In 2014, Family Mosaic signed the Mindful Employer charter as part of it's mental health strategy and made a commitment to invest in our staff’s mental well-being. This is a commitment the new Peabody organisation has agreed to invest in as it goes through a process of merger and integration with Family Mosaic. 

Writing in Inside Housing, Alex Reeve, regional director (London care and supported housing) explains; “From an employer’s perspective, it’s clear to us that financial pressures can play a big part in poor mental health. At Family Mosaic, personal and work-related stress absences have become the single biggest cause of sickness absence.” 

From Unite's experience that is a common problem across the social housing sector.  Mr Reeve also called on other associations to do more to ease financial pressures on their staff, including offering extra benefits such as discounted gym memberships and health insurance.

The offer of advice and counselling to staff is a positive move in recognising and supporting the contribution that low pay has on poor mental health but housing associations must address the desperate problems of low pay in the housing sector. The housing association sector has booked record annual surpluses year after year and senior executives have been granted inflation busting pay increases.  Unite is calling for a 4% increase in the sector as a real investment in staff mental health well being highlighting that Family Mosaic increased its surplus by 7% to £75 million and Peabody increased it's surplus by £50 million to £116 million last year.

For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week see the Mental Health Foundation website here.

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