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Third of sick days due to ill mental health

Nearly 40% of long-term sickness leave is due to ill mental health. Credit: PA

Two equality bodies are meeting to discuss how best to provide support for employees in Northern Ireland dealing with mental health issues.

Over 160 employers here and more than 60 union workplace reps are due to attend the conference.

"Mental ill health is the leading reason for absence from work in Northern Ireland," said Billy Gamble, Equality Commission NI.

32%
Sick days accounted to ill mental health
39%
Long-term sickness leave is due to ill mental health

The Mental Health Foundation has found that mental ill health accounts for almost one out of every three sick days in Northern Ireland.

The charity also discovered that almost 40% of long-term sickness leave is due to employees dealing with mental health issues.

The Equality Commission and Unite the Union NI are working to encourage companies here to commit to their Mental Health Charter.

Pressing challenge

Jackie Pollock, Regional Secretary for Unite the Union said: "Mental health is one of the most pressing challenges faced by our union and by workers.

"Many disciplinary cases involve underlying mental health issues and our workplace reps are often the first to be approached by employees suffering from mental health difficulties.

"We know that a partnership approach to this issue is necessary."

It is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace to create an environment that promotes wellbeing, including reasonable adjustments for mental illness.

We want to see equality of opportunity and respect for their workers suffering with mental ill health.

– Jackie Pollock, Unite the Union