Judith Mackinnon – Authoritative Figure Addressing Mental Health and Wellbeing
2005 – 2015: Judith was the Director for HR and National Programmes for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), for 9 years.
She introduced “The Managing Mental Health at Work Strategy” for the 800 strong workforces, as well as promoting it and other support to external organizations and employers.
She also had responsibility for developing and leading the national programmes for Suicide Prevention; Anti-bullying and Sport and Physical Activity.
05 Apr 2016: Living In The Shadow Of Suicide
Scotland has the highest suicide rate in the UK, and every day two people take their own lives.
But behind these statistics, there are hidden stories. The Scottish Association for Mental Health — SAMH — raises awareness and supports those affected by suicide, which still carries a baffling stigma. They are launching a programme for suicide prevention with a national network of support.
SAMH director Judith McKinnon said: “When someone dies by suicide, family, friends and communities deal with the aftermath. It’s always a deeply painful experience. People who survive suicide attempts also struggle to rebuild their lives.
We want to involve communities across Scotland in providing this support and prevent suicide through training and awareness-raising for the general public.” (The Sun)
30 Dec 2010: Judith McKinnon, Director of Human Resources at SAMH, talks about mental health, employment, stigma and discrimination.
30 Jan 2011: Judith Mackinnon: Member of The Scottish Government National Suicide and Self Harm Monitoring and Implementation Group.
Employed by Scottish Government from Jun 2017 as “Head of People Advice”, presumably with added responsibility for developing and leading national programmes for Suicide Prevention; Anti-bullying and Sport and Physical Activity.
15 Aug 2018: Government worker found taped to a chair and gagged loses bullying and harassment case
A fisheries officer who claimed she was bound-and-gagged to a chair by colleagues has had her allegations of bullying and harassment thrown out.
An employment tribunal, which sat in Aberdeen for two days in June, rejected DeeAnn Fitzpatrick’s claims she was mocked and targeted in a campaign of sexist harassment by colleagues.
The 49-year-old Canadian insisted there was a racist and misogynistic culture within Government agency Marine Scotland while she worked at their Scrabster office.
In an earlier hearing, DeeAnn alleged she was taped to a chair and gagged by colleagues in 2010. She produced a photograph which appeared to back up her claims.
Although that evidence was time-barred the tribunal went ahead and heard how DeeAnn was bombarded with fake Valentine’s day and birthday cards she believed came from male colleagues.
A message in one called her an “old troll” and another warned her about trying to “climb the ladder of success”.
DeeAnn told the tribunal the harassment was so bad she considered taking her own life and contacted an assisted suicide clinic.
She told the tribunal: “When I first started getting the cards, it made me feel awful. But as they continued, yes it’s affected my self-esteem. It’s actually made me become a recluse – I stay at home, I have gone more into myself. With everything going on, I contacted Dignitas in Switzerland. I had enough.”
DeeAnn, who has worked for Marine Scotland since 2006, was struggling to grasp the tribunal’s verdict that nothing was wrong.
She said: “It is difficult when you spend your entire career fighting racism, misogyny and bullies. Then to make matters worse when you report the incidents, you are the one that is being targeted by an ongoing campaign by senior management because you exposed what they have worked very hard to hide.”
The Scottish Government put up one witness, Judith MacKinnon, their head of people advice, who has over 25 years experience in human resources.
MacKinnon, who took up the job last year (2017) said those who dealt with DeeAnn’s complaints were too scared to appear because of the intense media interest.
But she backed the decisions taken by junior staff who found insufficient evidence to back up DeeAnn’s suspicions about the letters.
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she was “absolutely horrified” when shown the photo of DeeAnn allegedly taped to a chair and gagged.
She has ordered a top civil servant to conduct a full review of the circumstances and report to her personally.
DeeAnn’s sister-in-law Sherry said: “The Fitzpatrick family are hugely disappointed with the result of the tribunal.
However, this was not unexpected given the decision was made prior to the employment tribunal by the previous judge not to look at the restraint and other behaviors over a decade that our sister suffered while working in the Scrabster Fishery office.
The tribunal did, however, highlight that the human resources department should have been more proactive in dealing with the matter by launching an investigation, questioning staff and reminding staff that such matters might be regarded as being grounds for disciplinary action.
Not only the judges on the tribunal panel but us as DeeAnn’s family found it astonishing that the Scottish Government’s disciplinary policy allows employees the right to remain silent and they need not answer questions that may incriminate them.
What is far more important now is that the Scottish Government delivers a safe workplace for DeeAnn and other employees. Thank you to everyone for their continuing support and this is not the end of it.”
In noting Nicola Sturgeon was “absolutely horrified” when she was shown a photograph of DeeAnn taped to a chair and gagged and that she had ordered a top civil servant to conduct a full review and report back to her personally.
It would surely be inappropriate to appoint her Permanent Secretary or “Head of People Advice” who represented the government at the tribunal and supported decisions taken by local managers of LeeAnn.
To successfully defend the indefensible requires a great deal of skill and the system excelled in this regard.
But the final word goes to the relative who said, “thank you to everyone for their continuing support and this is not the end of it.”
The great Hank Williams is singing “Cold Cold Heart” in the background as I compile this. Appropriate in the circumstances.