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Pledging to break the silence around mental health

Middlesbrough Council has signalled its commitment to helping end mental health discrimination.

The authority has signed up to the Time to Change employer pledge, making it part of a growing social movement to support people to open up about mental health problems.

By signing, the Council undertakes to change the way it thinks and acts about mental health in the workplace.

At a ceremony in the Town Hall, officers from across the Council pledged their support to Time to Change with an action plan of activity aimed at breaking the silence that surrounds mental health issues.

The Council joins more than 450 companies and organisations including E.ON, British Gas, Ernst & Young, Transport for London, Royal Mail, Barclays, Shell, Pepsico, the Church of England, Sunday Mirror, Marks and Spencer that have signed up to the pledge.

And this Thursday (February 7) is #TimetoTalk day – a national campaign aiming to get more people talking about mental health, including in the workplace.

At the signing session, Middlesbrough Council Chief Executive Tony Parkinson shared stories and self-care tips with colleagues.

He said: “Over the last two years we have introduced a range of initiatives aimed at making Middlesbrough Council a great place to work, and signing up to the Time to Change pledge is another step on that journey.

“It’s well known that one in four of us will experience mental health issues at some point in our lives.

“Not only that, but nine in ten people who have experienced a mental health problem have faced negative treatment from others as a result.

“We need to break the silence and remove the stigma around mental health, and that’s why we have signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge.

“It’s a commitment to change the way we think and act about mental health at every level of this organisation, and to ensure that those affected get the help and support they need.”

Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination and is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Jo Loughran, Interim Director of Time to Change, said: “We know it can be hard to talk about mental health, which is why we’re supporting employers to open up; to talk and to listen.

“Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless, but with the right support, those of us with mental health problems can recover and have equal opportunities in all areas of life.

“Everyone’s attitude makes a difference and it’s fantastic to see organisations like Middlesbrough Council taking the lead.

“Many leading employers have found that making a strategic commitment to the mental wellbeing of their workforce not only benefits their staff but also their bottom line, improving productivity and staff retention.

“With one in six British workers experiencing mental illness it’s time for businesses to make a change and start creating more mentally healthy workplaces.”

Time to Change is funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Set up to create a positive shift in public attitudes towards mental health problems, Time to Change supports communities, schools and workplaces to open up to mental health problems; to talk and to listen.

Pictured: Chief Executive Tony Parkinson and colleagues from Middlesbrough Council show their commitment to ending mental health discrimination in the workplace