David Robbins | CUPE Communications

Building solidarity is what unions do, and that’s why CUPE is helping locals take action to protect and enhance the mental health of our members.  

CUPE locals and their members regularly address workplace issues to make sure that the workplace is safe and healthy for everyone. This includes ensuring that people have a workplace that is physically safe – and mentally healthy. 

Here are five ways your local can build solidarity for mental health:   

1. Strengthen your rights and understand your employer’s responsibilities 

Workers have the right to psychologically safe and healthy workplaces and workers can strengthen that right through organizing, campaigns and bargaining. All employers have a legal obligation to provide a healthy and safe workplace, including a workplace that is free from mental health hazards.  

2. Identify mental health hazards in the workplace, including discrimination  

Psychological health and safety means preventing mental injuries arising from hazards in the workplace, including excessive workload, stress, discrimination and toxic workplace cultures. If you experience any of these, report them to your employer and to your union. 

3. Build a culture of respect in your local   

Building mental health solidarity comes with the territory when we strengthen our locals using member engagement principles. Building a respectful culture is an ongoing process of being responsive, approachable and leading by example. Being inclusive builds strong locals – and naturally leads to strength at the bargaining table, as well.  

4. Bargain mental health provisions 

Perhaps the best way for CUPE locals to build mental health solidarity is to bargain good language into your contract. Strong bargaining language enhances wellbeing and emphasizes the prevention of mental injury.  

5. Deepen health and safety practice at your workplace  

Thanks to activists pushing the issue through the health and safety process, the impact of the workplace on workers’ mental health is becoming better understood every day. Remember, the process to work through health and safety concerns related to mental health hazards is the same as working to solve physical hazards. 

CUPE has the tools you need to take action. Check out our toolkits on Occupational Mental Health and Violence Prevention, and build your local’s capacity with our Health and Safety Committee Resource Kit. As always, you can reach out to our dedicated health and safety staff who can provide guidance and support.