North East England businesses employing 400,000 people are being urged to take part in a campaign to raise awareness of workplace mental health issues from World Mental Health Day, Tuesday, 10 October 2017.
North East England Chamber of Commerce, the region’s largest membership organisation, is encouraging all its members to back Time to Change’s ‘In Your Corner’ initiative. In Your Corner is a five year campaign that encourages everyone to look out for others – whether they are friends, family or colleagues.1 in 4 of people will experience a mental health problem this year and having a colleague in a corner can make all the difference. Being in someone’s corner can be as simple as asking someone how they’re doing, listening and not judging; just being there and being yourself.
The Chamber has also signed up to get involved with Time to Change for the benefit of its own employees.
Chamber President John McCabe, who has personal experience of mental ill health, said: “Thanks to campaigns such as Time to Change attitudes towards mental health have positively shifted in recent years but we still have a long way to go in terms of our understanding and acceptance of the illness.
“The single biggest challenge we face is in addressing the stigma that is still attached to mental health, especially in the workplace.
“Mental illness can affect anyone irrespective of their seniority, status or wealth so with accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, it should never be a barrier to career progression.
“With one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem this year this has become a business critical issue and that’s why I’m delighted the Chamber has signed up to Time to Change and I hope many of our members will do the same.”
Chamber member, Maaz Rahman, who owns Zizus Day Care Ltd in Middlesbrough, experienced depression due to the culmination of events including grieving for the loss of his wife, the struggles of managing two young children, and setting up a new start-up business and the financial stresses that come with it.
He said: “I managed to get through my mental health problems by surrounding myself with positive influences, and being able to talk through the issues with close friends and family. It also helped that focused myself on achieving the business goals I had originally set out to fulfil.
“I developed the foundations of my business that addresses the challenges I experienced during my stressful times, by creating a child care facility that could provide the flexibility to work around the personal life of single working parents. For me it was firstly about identifying that I was suffering from a mental health issue and then dealing with it head on, by getting the right level of support around me.”
The Chamber is also promoting the Time to Change In Your Corner campaign by spreading the word about how to spot mental health problems and what to do to be supportive. There is also a Newcastle City Council event at St James’ Park, Newcastle, Monday, 9 October, 1pm – 4pm on mental health in the workplace.