Local organisations get together to combat the stigma of Mental Health

Spectrum Community Health CIC and NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) joined together to launch the Mental Health Movement, beginning the journey towards combating mental health stigma in the Wakefield District. The event, which coincided with World Mental Health Day, took place on Friday 10th October 2014 at Unity Hall in Wakefield.

Keynote speaker, Lord Victor Adebowale, CBE (Chief Executive of Turning Point), along with Dr Clive Harries (Mental Health GP Lead, Wakefield CCG), Dr Linda Harris (Chief Executive of Spectrum), Peter Box, (Leader of Wakefield Council), kickstarted the Movement. The speakers talked through their personal commitments to the Movement and tasked delegates (made up of senior leaders from a wide variety  of organisations across the Wakefield District) to think broadly about the differences they can make as business leaders in their organisations and networks.

Mental illness is common, affecting thousands of people across the UK, from friends, family members and work colleagues. People with mental health problems can experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives. The social exclusion and discrimination that the person fears, or is experiencing can make their illness harder to recover from and very difficult to seek and receive the help and support they need.

Dr. Linda Harris, Chief Executive of Spectrum, who is leading the Movement, said, “Many people with mental illness say ‘the stigma of mental ill health is more disabling than the illness itself.’ The myths around mental health  have built barriers and walls around people with the condition. Our Mental Health Movement is all about starting to dispel these myths, remove these barriers and allow people the same access to services, jobs and social lives that everyone else enjoys and takes for granted.

People with mental health problems are amongst the least likely of any group with a long-term health condition or disability to:

  • find work
  • be in a steady, long-term relationship
  • live in decent housing
  • be socially included in mainstream society.

There are many myths around mental health. These include the perceptions that People with mental health conditions:

  • are likely to be erratic and violent
  • are unable to work
  • are dangerous and criminal
  • are very disabled
  • are unable to live normal, fulfilled lives

The event explored some potential opportunities for organisations to work collaboratively to tackle the issue of stigma. Senior leaders considered the role that employers can play by using their organisational values to tackle stigma. Many also explored the benefits of organisations becoming ‘Mindful Employers’, a programme aimed at increasing awareness of mental health at work and providing ongoing support for employers in the recruitment and retention of staff.

The Mental Health Movement is also setting up a network of ambassadors, that will champion the Movement to reduce stigma in Mental Health and influence, not only their own organisations, but also the local networks they are connected into. The following organisations have already signed up to help tackle stigma in mental health:

  • Castleford Academy
  • DISC
  • South West Yorkshire NHS Partnership Foundation
  • Spectrum Community Health CIC
  • Turning Point
  • Wakefield City Academy
  • Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Wakefield College
  • Wakefield Council
  • Wakefield District Housing
  • Wakefield District Young Carers Service
  • West Yorkshire – Finding Independence (WY-FI) project
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service
  • YPO (Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation)
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