Improving the workplace approach to mental illness for postal workers

Published: 16 Sep 2014

Improving the workplace approach to mental illness  for postal workers

Stephen Glaysher, from Godalming, has worked as a Royal Mail postman for the past 23 years. Having witnessed how mental illness has affected the working lives of others in his profession, he undertook a Churchill Travelling Fellowship find out how organisations abroad are promoting better mental health assistance for their employees.

Stephen, who is also a representative for the Communication Workers Trade Union (CWU), spent 5 weeks in Canada and the USA. He visited a number of organisations providing a range of innovative approaches to mental health education and training, including localised projects and community awareness programs.

Many people have preconceived view of mental health issues, thinking they are a sign of weakness (MIND UK and Rethink Mental Illness, 2014). However Stephen was impressed by the progressive steps being taken by some organisations to counter this kind of prejudice. 

Bell Canada, a communications company, has created the post of Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair.  The firm has invested $1 million over 5 years for Dr Heather Stuart to research the subject, as part of their ‘Let’s Talk’ mental health initiative.  Her six basic steps to aid stigma change are:

1.  Watch your language 

2.  Educate yourself about mental illness           

3.  Small acts of kindness go a long way 

4.  Listen and ask – don’t assume or give advice

5.  Support mental health and anti-stigma programs       

6.  Start a dialogue, not a debate

Stephen said, “My perception of current training methods has changed through this Fellowship.  The main issue is not with the training methods as such, but how the information is translated into the workplace.”  He also warns that, “No action, by all people (or stakeholders), is the biggest risk that can be taken in terms of employee mental health.”

Stephen has been in conversation with CWU officials regarding progressing the issue of mental health and using his research in a positive way. 

“I am extremely excited at how much interest the research has generated and hope it may be able to influence further change in stigma and support for people suffering from mental health issues.”

For more information:

Contact Stephen:          [email protected]