We’re working with Time to Change on a national pilot project to tackle stigma and discrimination faced by those with mental health problems.
The project, also involving Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), and people with experience of mental health problems, follows evidence that mental health care service users nationally continue to face stigma from healthcare professionals.
Our Chief Executive Shaun Clee said: "At ²gether we have been committed to tackling mental health stigma for some time. The Time to Change initiative offers us further opportunity to reach our aspiration of providing the best service experience for people who use mental health services. As such, we have pledged to lead a series of forums this year, working with our teams to consider the ways we currently impact – either positively or negatively – upon the stigma felt by people who use mental health services.
"The sessions will be attended by staff at all levels of our organisation, and from a wide range of teams and services in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. We will deliver the work alongside people with lived experience of our service, who will be invited to openly share their own experiences of interacting with ²gether staff. Part of the work will be to consider ways in which practice can be enhanced to reduce mental health stigma. To do this, all participants will be invited to share their personal pledge to tackle mental stigma through and in their health care professional practice."
Working with Trusts, Time to Change, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, will focus on bringing together professionals and people who have used mental health services to facilitate an open dialogue about changes that could make a big difference to both people’s experience of mental health services and the experiences of staff. The sessions will highlight positive examples of where mental health staff have challenged stigma and discrimination with the aim of empowering others to do the same.
Evaluation at the beginning and end of the pilot will measure improvements in staff attitudes and behaviour.
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: "Data since 2008 on attitudes and discrimination have shown us that there have been significant improvements in public attitudes and people using mental health services have reported reduced levels of discrimination from their family, friends, neighbours, dating and social life.
"What has remained almost static was the level of discrimination reported in mental health services and other parts of the NHS. We’ve been researching this area, and are now launching two pilots very much in equal partnership with two Trusts and people who have used their services. We know it is important to create a non-judgemental space for open dialogue, where positive examples of staff tackling stigma can be shared as well as an acknowledgement of the many pressures staff face. We also want to see if staff feel more able to talk about their own mental health. Our aim is to bring benefit to people using services as well as staff, and tackle stigma collaboratively with strong leadership to support change. We are delighted to be working with staff at NTW and ²gether on these pilots."
In addition to the pilot projects, Time to Change will run a targeted communications campaign to reach a wider group of mental health professionals in partnership with NHS England.
To read more about Time to Change, click here.