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Partners sign the Time To Change Pledge to end stigma surrounding mental health

Time to Change_POTHREE of South Wales’ biggest service providers and employers have joined forces to end the stigma that still, all too often, surrounds mental health issues.

By taking the Time To Change pledge, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Councils and Cwm Taf University Health Board are vowing to continue their work to offer open, honest and supportive workplaces in which people can manage mental health conditions without stigma or discrimination.

With one in every three people in Wales believed to be affected by long-term or short-term mental health issues in their lifetimes, it is clear that – as the largest providers of employment and services – the partner agencies’ approach to mental health will have a huge impact on a large proportion of the population in the region.

By taking the pledge, they are committing to continuing ongoing work to support employees (who are also residents) and also aspiring to embed action plans and organisational cultures across all three agencies, where mental health issues are not shrouded in secrecy or shame. The ultimate aim is for people to feel supported to be as open as they want to be about their mental health issues and the support they need.

Senior leaders at all three of the organisations already work innovatively – together as a partnership and individually with their own workforces and communities – to effectively manage mental health issues and ensure people talk about mental health and do not shroud it in secrecy and stigma.
Taking the pledge is the latest stage in that ongoing work and commitment.

Time To Change is being delivered across Wales by the nation’s three largest mental health organisations, Gofal, Hafal and Mind Cymru and aims to open up the conversation around mental health, stripping away stigma and giving individuals and organisations tips and support on managing mental health – and what they can do to help.

“Mental health issues can affect anyone at any time. The chances are, each and every one of us knows or has known someone who has suffered from mental illness.

“As the largest employer in the county borough, the Council has, at a minimum, a duty of care to each and every one of its employees by promoting health and wellbeing to create a workplace where issues are prevented and, also, providing care and support to those who need it the most.

“But we want to go further than the minimum, which is why we have pledged to Time To Change, creating an environment where there is no stigma, secrecy or discrimination. By harnessing the efforts of three of the largest service providers in the region, we are aiming to make a huge impact with this commitment.”

Maria Thomas, acting Vice Chair at Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “Our organisations collectively employ more than 21,000 staff across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf. Signing this pledge today is our public declaration that we will all step up to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination both within our organisation and the wider community.”

“Within the Health Service we have seen the stigma of ill health, particularly conditions such as cancer being challenged which has led to attitudes being changed. As a result more people are seeking help earlier and outcomes have improved. We want the same for everyone experiencing a mental health problem.”

More about the Time to Change Wales pledge

The Time to Change Wales pledge is a public declaration that we want to step up to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. We will commit in an action plan to taking actions that are realistic and appropriate, which will lead to a reduction in discrimination within the three organisations and the wider community.

More organisations stepping up to make the organisational pledge means more noise is being made – helping to break the silence around mental health. Imagine if every organisation in Wales made a public pledge to tackle stigma: employers big and small, councils, universities, football clubs, places of worship, charities… that would send a powerful message that mental health is something that can be talked about, and that stigma and discrimination are not welcome.