Project tackles mental health stigma

This story was published 26 July 2017

A project which aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health has been commissioned.

The project enourages social contact between those with mental health issues and the general public

The project will be delivered across North Yorkshire by mental health charity Scarborough Survivors, by encouraging social contact between those with mental health issues and the general public. It is being funded by a North Yorkshire County Council Public Health grant.

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, the executive member for public health, said: “Tackling the assumptions made about mental health head on was a joint commitment of the North Yorkshire mental health strategy Hope, Control and Choice. This project provides a fantastic opportunity to break down the stigma that is commonly associated with mental health issues.

“The project is based on the national Time to Change programme, which promotes social contact as a way to tackle the stigma associated with mental health issues. This includes discussions and conversations between people who have experienced mental health problems and those who have not.

“When people talk to each other and establish common ground, prejudices and assumptions are often challenged and replaced with mutual understanding and respect, which can lead to changes in attitudes and behaviour. Time to Change aims to improve public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems and reduce the amount of discrimination that people with mental health problems experience in their personal relationships, their social lives and at work.”

The project will provide grants, administered by Scarborough Survivors, to enable individuals and groups of North Yorkshire residents who have experienced mental health issues to hold events to allow social contact to take place. Scarborough Survivors will also promote the Time to Change message across the county and help to dispel myths about people with mental health issues.

Scarborough Survivors is a registered charity, founded in 1994, and is made up of people with direct experience of mental health problems. It was awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service (MBE) in June 2017.

Andrea Woolcott, chief executive of Scarborough Survivors, said: “We are looking forward to working with the county council to help to tackle mental health stigma across North Yorkshire. By enabling social contact between the general public and those who have experienced mental health issues, we hope to encourage open and honest conversations, tackling discrimination and dispelling myths about mental health.”

North Yorkshire County Council is also a Mindful Employer, making a voluntary commitment to show that the organisation is working to promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and to recruit and support individuals who may have mental health issues or have suffered discrimination in the past.