It’s time to change – City of York Council signs mental health pledge

During mental health awareness week, City of York Council has committed to raising awareness of positive mental health and the support available, as well as challenging stigma, by becoming a time to change employer.

The council’s Chief Executive, Mary Weastell, signed the pledge and was joined by colleagues from across the council, Tim Madgwick, Chair of York’s Mental Health Partnership, York CVS and Time to Change.

The Time to Change employer pledge is a way for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to changing the way everyone thinks and acts about mental health in the workplace and make sure that employees who are facing these problems feel supported.

The pledge comes after last year the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board launched its mental health strategy and created a new mental health partnership to deliver it. One of the partnership’s main priorities is making sure York is a mental health friendly environment.

Mary Weastell, Chief Executive of City of York Council said: “I am honoured to have signed this pledge on behalf of the council. We know that 1 in 4 workers in the UK are affected by conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress every year and it is vital that they feel supported and that we tackle the stigma around mental health.

“Often people will report more familiar illness such as a stomach ache, a sore throat, or exhaustion to mask more serious and debilitating mental health problems.  With so many myths and misunderstandings and the stigma surrounding mental health, it is sometimes difficult for people to know how to respond.  Yet how we respond, as peers and managers, is absolutely crucial to support our colleagues continued wellbeing. This means creating an environment where it is ok to talk about mental health, ok to share if you are having a problem and ok to support friends and colleagues.

“This is why we have signed up as a Time to Change employer and we are looking forward to working with Time to Change and other partners to make this a success.”

Jane Mackay, Community Equalities Coordinator (North East), Time to Change said: “When I found a workplace that accepted and in fact embraced my mental health problems, I was immediately more comfortable, motivated and more productive than I had been in a long time. Creating a workplace culture where people can just be themselves without fear of judgement or discrimination makes such a big difference both to staff and organisations. I’m proud to be a Time to Change Champion and as a York resident I am delighted that City of York Council are making such a clear commitment to the campaign. I look forward to working alongside the council and other local partners in the Time to Change York Hub, spreading our anti-stigma message across the city”.

Alyson Scott, Chief Executive Officer, York Mind: “We are delighted that City of York Council continue to show real commitment to supporting mental health across the city by leading through example and signing the Time to Change employer pledge.”

Naomi Thomson, Head of Organisational Development, Benenden Health, one of the city’s other Time to Change employers said: “I would like to pass on our congratulations to City of York Council as they sign the Time to Change Pledge and take the first step in their journey to change how they think and act about mental health in the workplace. Benenden Health signed the pledge 18 months ago and it has been a driver of change in how we support our colleagues with their mental health as part of our wider health and wellbeing strategy.”

Alison Semmence, Chief Executive, York CVS said “Through our partnership with the City of York Council for the Time to Change Hub, we support and would like to encourage as many employers as possible to sign the pledge and commit to reducing the stigma of mental health in the workplace”.

During Mental Health Awareness Week the council and its partners also hosting a number of events across the city for residents. To support people living with mental health issues, there will be three community events held during the week. Drop-in sessions will be open on Wednesday 15 May on Parliament Street (9.30am-4pm). Both will be jam-packed with information, activities and helpful staff to signpost people to extra resources and sources of good quality mental health support.

On Friday 17 May at 30 Clarence Street (10.30am-4pm) there will be a special day event with information and advice. Afternoon tea will be served made by people attending community recovery projects. There will also be crafts and activities including mindfulness taster sessions which can be booked via