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Council signs pledge for wider mental health support

Posted onPosted on 3rd Mar

Breaking down the stigmas attached to issues of mental health in the workplace and encouraging staff to work in ways that promote positive mental wellbeing are the focus of a new initiative.

Newark and Sherwood District Council has joined employers across the country in signing the Time to Change employer pledge, led by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

The pledge – which involves a 12-month employer action plan detailing the measures the authority will take to tackle discrimination around mental health – is a commitment to improving the way employers and employees respond to mental health problems in the workplace.

The council has already launched a series of staff initiatives and recruited mental health champions in each department and another from each political party.

The pledge was officially signed by district council chief executive, John Robinson, and leader, Coun David Lloyd. They were joined by a number of local services, including the Shaw Mind Foundation, for staff to speak to and learn more about the services and support they can offer.

Coun Lloyd said: “Only about half our community feel comfortable talking about mental health issues in the workplace. The Time to Change campaign encourages an open and inclusive culture and we hope more employers within our community will join us in signing up to the employer’s pledge.”

“Staff wellbeing is of great importance to us and we aim to work together to ensure our culture is one where staff feel valued and are encouraged to talk openly and share their own experiences.”

John Robinson said: “Mental health in the workplace is a huge focus for us and it is important we do all we can to break down stigmas and support employees in every way possible.

“Signing the Time to Change employer pledge formalises our commitment to change how we think and act about mental health at every level of the organisation. By choosing to be open about mental health, we are all part of a movement that’s changing the conversation around mental health and ensuring that no one is made to feel isolated or alone for having poor mental health.”

Mental health first aid training sessions will be provided to employees, with the staff champions selected as the first round of participants.

The course will give staff an in-depth understanding of mental health and factors that affect wellbeing, as well as practical skills to spot the signs of mental health issues to offer employees confidential support and a friendly face to discuss any issues that they may be struggling with.

The trained employees will also be provided with the knowledge to signpost fellow staff to further support, including support within the council, NHS or through a specialist charity provision.

Staff across the organisation will also be invited to attend mental health awareness sessions, to help staff understand and recognise the causes, symptoms and support options for a range of common and less-common mental health issues.

A health and wellbeing book loan scheme has been launched so staff can access, free of charge, resources to help them achieve a better state of mental health. As part of this, the council has partnered up with Unison, the public service trade union which has funded £200 worth of wellbeing books.

The first of a series of ‘lunch and learn’ sessions has taken place in which authors of mental health books are invited to and discuss topics relating to health and wellbeing to staff.

An update will be taken to the district council’s full council on an annual basis to review completed actions, the impact across the authority and future plans.

Pictured are district council leader David Lloyd and chief executive John Robinson with staff members, councillors and representatives from the Shaw Mind Foundation with the signed pledge.