Mind responds to allegations about a ‘culture of bullying’

In 2018, media coverage and social media activity alleged a ‘culture of bullying’ at Mind.

Mark Isherwood AM raised concerns about claims of bullying at Mind and financial arrangements between England, Wales and our local Minds. We met with Mark to discuss his concerns and to talk to him about the work we do in Wales to support people with mental health problems.

We wanted to take the opportunity to respond publicly to the claims here.

This statement was last updated in June 2019.

On claims of bullying

We take the wellbeing of our staff very seriously and we do not tolerate bullying.

A former member of staff, who worked for Mind for a short period of time in 2015-16, has publicly alleged a ‘culture of bullying’. Due to the serious nature of these concerns, a full and robust investigation was conducted by our Trustees. The Trustee report was comprehensive, scrutinising employment relations cases, consulting with staff, analysing recent staff survey feedback and reviewing all of our management policies. Trustees concluded that claims of a bullying culture are unfounded.

This does not mean that we are complacent. As a mental health charity, we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards when it comes to wellbeing at work and we are always ready to improve our management processes in response to concerns raised by our staff. With this in mind, the Trustees made several recommendations for improving Mind’s management systems for the future, which we are implementing.

These include strengthening our training for managers, increasing the range of support offered to staff with mental health problems, ensuring all staff are aware of our policies around bullying and harassment and improving some of our HR processes. We took urgent steps to make the recommended improvements and this project has been overseen by our Chief Operating Officer and our Trustees.

We are deeply saddened if anyone feels they had a poor experience working at Mind. We welcome a conversation about our culture and practices as we know from our most recent staff survey that the majority report feeling well-supported at work. We were unaware that some of the people involved in the 2018 media coverage and social media were unhappy at Mind. As a result, we extended an open invitation to any former or current staff and volunteers to come forward and share their concerns directly with our Chair of Trustees.

A small number of people got in touch and we invited each person to meet with us to discuss their concerns.

Throughout this process, we have kept the Charity Commission fully informed about the allegations being made. We have discussed the investigation with them and explained how the situation is being addressed.

The Charity Commission has an important role to play in holding charities to account and it is right that they should make sure we are working as we should and addressing concerns in the best way. We have been very open over the last few months about where we need to improve and the steps we are taking to do this. We are confident in the approach we have taken but if the Charity Commission has any further recommendations or advice for us we will of course take this on board as we are always keen to keep improving.

On claims about funding

For over 70 years Mind has been at the forefront of campaigning to improve mental health services and fight for the rights of people with mental health problems.

In 2016/17 Mind’s income, including net profit contribution from our network of shops, was £28.8m. 

Much is committed to running our national information services, including our infoline, based in Wales, which dealt with over 76,000 queries last year. We distributed over a million information booklets last year and the information pages of our website were accessed 10.8 million times. These Information Standard accredited resources can be a lifeline for those struggling with their mental health.

We run targeted services that support people in need from all different communities from our Blue Light Programme that supports emergency services staff with mental wellbeing at work to our Elefriends online peer support community that brings together over 60,000 users to share their experiences and support each other.

Mind has main offices in London and Cardiff. In addition we have around 130 local Minds across England and Wales. These are independent charities in their own right that affiliate to Mind. They have their own fundraising activities and most of them are involved in running local services funded by the NHS or local authorities. Our local Minds have a combined income of £119m and they provide services which benefitted over 300,000 people in 2016/17. In Wales the local network has provided support to around 20,600 people and had an income of £8-9m.

We are transparent about how our money is raised and spent, which is published every year in our annual accounts. We strongly refute claims that we are denying our local Mind network funding.

We work in partnership with our local Mind network and support them by using our national infrastructure to secure funding on their behalf. For example, we may sometimes receive funding from corporate partners, charitable trusts or government who expect a project to be centrally managed but locally delivered. We know that together we are stronger.

We also make grants available to our Local Minds annually to help them sustain existing services or to enable them to develop new projects. These grants often benefit local services that reach people who are likely to experience multiple forms of discrimination.

In addition to direct financial support, our local Minds benefit from help and expertise from a range of teams across Mind. This includes support around designing services, communications, local campaigning and media, as well as supporting their governance, HR, financial planning and fundraising.

The total financial value of the support to our local Minds in 2016/17 was £4.3m.

In 2016/17, Mind Cymru received £978,496 in restricted funds, mostly from trusts and statutory funders. This money is all spent in Wales, on the projects for which the money was specifically raised. Any underspend is either returned to the funder or carried over to be spent on the projects the following year, in agreement with the funders.

In addition, Mind Cymru raised around £424,000 in unrestricted funds, from traditional fundraising activities such events, individual fundraisers and legacies. We actually spent more than this in Wales in 2016/17, around £484,000.

Working at Mind

We take the wellbeing of our staff very seriously. We believe that all members of staff should be treated with respect and dignity in an environment free from harassment and bullying. Behaviour that undermines this aim is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Bullying has no place at Mind.

We employ more than 300 people at our England and Wales offices, around half of whom identify as having a mental health problem. We regularly survey our staff, anonymously, about workplace wellbeing and we know that the majority report feeling well-supported at work. We are not complacent, however, and we are constantly striving to improve. As a mental health charity, we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards when it comes to workplace wellbeing.

As with any large organisation, there will be very rare occasions when things go wrong. If a member of staff raises a grievance against their manager or another member of staff, we take this very seriously and investigate fully in line with our policies. If allegations are upheld, or problems with our processes uncovered as part of the investigation, we take appropriate action.

What does Mind do to support staff wellbeing?

Mind is committed to promoting good mental wellbeing at work. We make sure that we are doing everything we can to get the staples of good wellbeing right, and go the extra mile to look after staff. We have a mental health at work policy which outlines how we support staff, we promote a good work life balance and actively discourage a long-hours culture.

We practice regular one to ones and annual appraisals to ensure staff are clear about their role and responsibilities. As part of these processes, we ask staff about their wellbeing and how they can be best supported. This includes encouraging staff to develop a Wellness Action Plan with their line manager - a simple method of facilitating conversations about mental health which are constructive and lead to agreed practical support.

We also train all of our line managers in managing mental health at work and empower all staff to challenge bullying or stigmatising behaviour. We survey staff regularly to find out how we can improve.

Mind staff have access to a 24-hour employee assistance programme for work or personal issues; cycle to work scheme, competitive pensions, childcare vouchers, flexible working hours and ‘Mind days’ – an extra six days of holiday a year on top of the regular 25. In addition, there is subsidised yoga and pilates, craft groups and a softball team.

What support does Mind have in place for staff who have a mental health problem?

Around half of staff at Mind have lived experience of mental health problems, and we are committed to supporting staff who are experiencing a mental health problem. As part of this commitment we provide:

· Occupational health guidance on how best to support an employee in the workplace

· An Employee Assistance Programme which offers telephone advice and face to face counselling

· Reasonable workplace adjustments to help give an employee the environment they need to do their job (e.g. flexible working, reasonable changes to the physical working environment) 

All staff are also offered the opportunity by their line managers to have a Wellness Action Plan put in place. Individual employees and their managers develop these plans together. They are used to help the member of staff identify what keeps them well and likely triggers of stress or ill health at work, to help managers know the signs to look out for and, where appropriate, to detail what support could be put in place in these circumstances, including any reasonable adjustments.

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