Working hard to promote good mental health

This story was published 21 September 2017

This year’s World Mental Health Day onTuesday, 10 October will focus on raising awareness of the importance of good mental health at work – an initiative fully supported by North Yorkshire County Council.

Work can play a very important part in supporting and protecting mental health

A survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that 86 per cent of respondents believed that their job and being at work was important to protecting and maintaining their mental health. Having an effective and supportive approach to mental health at work can help to ensure that individuals experiencing mental health issues can continue in paid employment and can help to improve sickness absence rates due to stress or mental ill health.

“Work can play a very important part in supporting and protecting mental health,” said County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Public Health, Prevention and Supported Housing. “We can have good or poor mental health, just as we have varying physical health, and we can all experience changes in our mental wellbeing from time to time. This can be anxiety, stress or a more serious mental health condition.

“And being in a positive, supportive working environment can be hugely beneficial for people dealing with mental health issues. That is why we are proud that North Yorkshire County Council is signed up to the Charter to be a Mindful Employer and is supporting World Mental Health Day once again this year.”

The Charter for Employers who are Positive about Mental Health is one part of the national Mindful Employer initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness of mental health in the workplace and providing support to employers in recruiting and retaining staff who may have mental issues or have suffered discrimination because of them in the past.

Since signing up to the Charter in 2016, NYCC has been building on current good practice and putting in place further initiatives to promote good mental health. This includes a review of employee policies which can improve mental wellbeing, forming a task group including staff who have experienced mental health issues at work and developing further advice and training for managers, so they can support their employees even more.

Mental health campaigns have been promoted at NYCC, including World Mental Health Week, where employees were encouraged to consider the Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Take Notice, Be Active, Learn and Give) and Time To Talk Day, when staff shared their personal experiences of mental health issues.

“The Mindful Employer Charter gives a clear message that NYCC is positive about mental health,” said Cllr Dickinson. “It forms part of a programme of work that includes improving the experiences of employees with mental ill-health, and also takes a wider preventative approach to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all our employees, and supports the aims and objectives of the North Yorkshire mental health strategy - called Hope, Control and Choice - and the mental health Crisis Care Concordat work that NYCC is carrying out alongside partner organisations.

“I’d also like to say thank you to Gareth Atkinson, one of our NYCC employees, who has been raising awareness about mental health in the workplace. Gareth, who has personal experience of mental ill health, is a keen photographer - a hobby he has found has helped his battle with anxiety. He is raising funds for ‘Young Minds’ through sales of his 2018 nature calendar. ‘Young Minds’ is a national organisation which provides mental health support for young people.”