Tackling stigma around mental health in Bedfordshire

This event, held on World Mental Health Day, 10 October, brought more than 25 delegates from Bedfordshire workplaces together to hear from guest speakers about the stigma surrounding mental ill health and how this can be managed within the workplace.

Mental Health Problems are common. In any one year approximately 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem, and the World Health Organisation forecasts that by 2020 depression will be the second leading contributor to the global burden on disease. The long-standing stigma around mental health problems means that many people have a limited understanding of mental ill health.

At the event, presentations were given by Julie Bailie from the SEPT Partnership who talked about the early signs of depression and gave examples of simple solutions for workplaces to raise their awareness and how to address these issues.  Delegates also heard from Nadia Whetton and Andy Reeve, of AMR Consulting who gave a real live scenario of an individual who suffered from mental ill health and how they managed this with support from their employer.

Employers were given some top tips for dealing with mental ill health in the workplace. These included:

  • Cover health management in interviews and induction to demonstrate that it is part of the workplace culture;

  • Don’t be frightened to confront mental health issues;

  • Build a culture of openness and take disclosure seriously.

At the event, break out sessions allowed delegates to share the challenges they face with mental health issues in their workplaces and to look at potential solutions with expertise from the SEPT and Mental Health First Aid presenters.

I just want to say how impressed I was with yesterday’s event. It was fantastic. All the speakers were incredibly inspiring and so brave to share their personal stories – they were so thought provoking. It has made me look at my work-life balance and my staff. Sometimes we are all too busy to notice the signs.

- Luton Council delegate

Here are some of the ideas and feedback from the break out sessions:
Workplaces should develop their own resource pack where colleagues and employees can be sign-posted for support

  • Create a culture of openness so that individuals can talk about their mental ill health issues

  • Promote mental health champions in the workplace and provide them with the training and skills to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental ill health

  • Raise awareness of mental ill health through ‘bite size’ training sessions

  • Look at self-help solutions for example: Mindfulness and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) such as Mood Gym

Download the presentations from the event below.