Businesses across Gloucestershire are being urged to ‘Tackle Stigma’ and ‘Talk Mental Health’ in the run up to World Mental Health Day.
Depression, anxiety and stress caused 15 million days of work loss in the UK in 2013*, and many staff feel too embarrassed to speak up and seek help.
To help combat this, senior figures from ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and a ²gether service user are visiting businesses and organisations to talk mental health over a cup of tea.
The campaign got underway today (Oct 6) with a visit to Star Bistro, and on Friday (Oct 10) – World Mental Health Day itself – Gloucester Rugby players and staff will also help tackle stigma by lending their support to the campaign.
Professor Jane Melton, Clinical Director for Social Inclusion with ²gether, said: "We are really grateful to all of the businesses who will be welcoming us throughout this campaign.
"They all take the wellbeing of their staff very seriously, which is why they are keen to find out more about how to encourage good emotional wellbeing and ensure their workforce is open and honest about mental health.
"We hope other businesses will want to follow their example, so that we get the whole of Gloucestershire tackling stigma and talking mental health.
"One in four people will experience a mental health issue in any given year, but there is still discrimination towards those with mental ill health.
"We want to break through the myths and talk openly and honestly, so that people feel supported and encouraged to seek the help they need, which will also help businesses maintain a happy and productive workforce."
Dr Helen Miller, Clinical Chair at Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "We can help our employees to stay well, both physically and mentally with the right knowledge and skills.
"Maintaining good mental health is really important, particularly in the context of a rapidly changing world and pace of life. Looking after staff and working towards reducing the stigma associated with mental health makes organisations happier and healthier. It also makes good business sense for organisations as staff who feel better cared for and supported will ultimately feel able to contribute more with a positive impact on productivity."
The businesses and organisations being visited through the campaign are:
Star Bistro, a partnership project between The Wiggly Worm Charity and the National Star College, at Ullenwood, near Cheltenham
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Norville Group, in Gloucester
Sainsbury’s at Gloucester Quays
GE Aviation, in Cheltenham
Gloucestershire Care Service NHS Trust
People and Places
Cheltenham Borough Council
Gloucestershire County Council
The organisations getting behind the campaign all have their own reasons for supporting it.
Rob Rees, of Star Bistro – the first organisation to be visited during the week – said: "Any one of us at any time – that’s the reality of when you or I could suffer with something that makes life harder to cope with. We ignore mental health issues at our peril. I would encourage more employers to be more flexible and understanding when difference occurs amongst their staff."
Gloucester Rugby’s Chief Executive Stephen Vaughan said: "We work in an industry where, obviously, the physical wellbeing of our players is the thing that captures most of the media headlines. However, it is a line of work where any of our employees, both on and off the field, can find themselves suffering from anxiety, stress or other related issues. As an organisation we take this very seriously and commit to providing support for anyone who needs it. Therefore, we’re delighted to lend our support to the NHS Foundation Trust’s campaign."
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Dave Smith said: "As one of the largest employers in the county providing emergency care for residents across Gloucestershire, we are fully behind any programme that helps to de-stigmatise mental health issues.
"It is important to us that our patients receive the best possible care and support when receiving treatment with us. Equally, we understand that our employees may need support and we work hard to raise awareness about the support available for our staff in our hospitals such as our Identifying Mental Health training for managers and our full resilience training.
"Knowing that you can get help and knowing how to access support is really key and we are proud to support this campaign and to talk about such an important issue."
Simon Lloyd, Store Manager at Sainsbury’s, Gloucester Quays, said: "As one in four people are suffering from this problem it’s great for us to help in raising awareness about this with the number of customers we have in the shop every week and 300 colleagues working for us in the store."
John Lane, Operations Director at Norville Group Ltd, said: "Our opinion is that mental health is no different to physical heath in the way that it should be viewed by an employer, and simply part of general wellbeing.
"Although we need our employees to come to work, they need to be healthy in order to do so, and we respect all personal issues that affect any individual and would like to work with them to find a solution to whatever the issue might be. Any increase in understanding and appreciation has to be a good thing for everyone."
The campaign will culminate with a conference in Cheltenham on Monday November 10.
That event will be open to all Gloucestershire businesses and organisations and the keynote speaker on the day will be Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, England’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
For more information click here.