Mind rejects charge that it has a 'culture of bullying'

But the charity admits it must improve support for staff with mental health problems

The mental health charity Mind has rejected accusations that it has a culture of bullying, but admitted it needs to improve its workplace support for employees with mental health difficulties.

A review by the charity’s council of management, the charity’s board, examined the results and handling of employee complaints since the beginning of 2016, the charity’s management policies and employee feedback.

The review was sparked by a complaint from Andrew Jones, a former local services strategy development officer at the charity’s Welsh office, who claimed the charity had a toxic and bullying workplace culture.

The charity agreed to carry out the review in May 2017 and the results were sent to Jones in a letter dated 5 April, the day after Jones’s allegations were among those published by the BBC

The letter, signed by Emrys Elias, chair of Mind Cymru, said the review had concluded "that there is not a culture of bullying within Mind, but it found that some management practices would benefit from being strengthened".

Among the recommendations, it said, was a call to "strengthen people management skills by improving management and leaderships skills" and to "strengthen the support available for staff with mental health problems" by increasing staff access to counselling and establishing an improvement plan.

The review also recommended that bullying and harassment education within the charity be improved and that the biennial staff survey should become annual.

In his reply to the letter, Jones rejected the review’s findings that there was no culture of bullying at Mind, describing the conclusion as "deeply disturbing" and "a whitewash".

He said he and others had been "victims of bullying and abuse at Mind and our health has been badly damaged".

He said: "I see very little in the recommendations that will change the culture within Mind, but given that you still do not recognise workplace bullying is present it is hardly surprising.

"Most of the recommendations are all fairly standard good practice in any organisation, so this begs the question why were they not already in place."

In a statement, Mind said it was "deeply saddened if anyone feels they had a poor experience working at Mind" and the review had been a "full and robust investigation".

The statement added: "The trustee report was comprehensive, scrutinising employment relations cases, consulting with staff, analysing recent staff survey feedback and reviewing all of our management policies." It said trustees had concluded that claims of a bullying culture were unfounded.

According to the statement, the charity was not complacent and was taking "urgent steps" to implement the review’s recommendations.

When Jones’s allegations were first published by the BBC last week, the charity said anyone with similar concerns should contact the chair of trustees.

A spokeswoman told Third Sector that, although the chair had received a couple of responses, no new concerns had yet been brought to light.

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