“To hear that so many parliamentary staff members have struggled with their mental health as a result of bullying and harassment by MPs is so disappointing and worrying. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work. While it’s welcome to hear of good practice by many MPs, it’s clear that Parliament has a significant problem with this issue. We know MPs are under huge amounts of pressure, but there is never an excuse for bullying and harassment. Many staff members in Westminster have reported that poor behaviour by MPs has led to a deterioration in their mental wellbeing. This isn’t good enough.
“We recognise that the House of Commons is unique and filled with pressure and stresses that we don’t see in most workplaces. But that doesn’t mean staff wellbeing should suffer as a result. Policies need to be put in place to protect staff from bullying and harassment which are aligned with other public sector employers. And, crucially, staff also need to know how they can access help and know they’ll be taken seriously if they make a complaint in a way that doesn’t jeopordise their roles. We welcome the recommendation to open the complaints procedure to former staff.
“It’s important that all employers, including MPs, recognise and respond to any challenges their workplace can have on the wellbeing of their staff. For example, we know that through casework, staff members often hear harrowing stories and work with very distressed people themselves, and they need to be properly supported to manage the potential impact of that. MPs should all have training, in their capacity as line managers, in how to spot signs of poor mental health in staff, and how to respond appropriately when staff are struggling.
“MPs have spoken out recently about the pressures that their job is putting on their mental health. Mind recently shared advice with all MPs about how to support themselves through the Brexit process, and we encouraged them also to share this with their staff. We hope the recommendations of this report will be taken seriously across the whole of Westminster. Change is clearly needed to create the culture of openness and respect in Westminster which, especially in these turbulent times, all those working there deserve.”