Peter Bedford Housing Association (PBHA) and Volunteer Centre Hackney (VCH) renewed their commitment to tackling mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace, by signing the Time to Change pledge at the close of 2014.

PBHA and VCH have joined the ever growing movement of organisations that have signed the Time to Change pledge to promote a better understanding of mental health problems within the workplace, while offering support and welfare advice to staff.

Time to Change is England’s most ambitious programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. It is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

According to statistics from Mind, one in six workers is dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress. Mind’s research shows work is the biggest cause of stress in people’s lives, more so than debt or financial problems. That is why it is so important to talk about mental health, breaking the stigma surrounding it.

Together, PBHA and VCH lead Change Together, a year-long project to raise mental health awareness in Hackney and Islington, funded by Time to Change. ‘Change Together’ volunteers all have lived experience of mental health problems and have hosted over 500 conversations with members of the public at events in Hackney and Islington. It is a year-long project from 2014-15 that uses pop-up shops, workshops, ‘tasters’ and exhibitions to bring members of the public into contact with adults with lived experience of mental health problems to help end the stigma attached to mental health problems.

PBHA CEO Clare Norton said: ‘One in four people experience mental health problems, and many of those face stigma and discrimination as a result. It is time to talk about mental health and break the stigma surrounding it.’

VCH CEO Lauren Tobias added: ‘It’s great to be part of such an important campaign. Having a mental health problem is hard enough but sometimes the isolation and stigma can make it even worse so we pledge to help break the stigma in 2015’.

Volunteer testimonies:

‘It takes projects like this, reaching people in the community to break down the barriers, and create awareness so people understand. And for volunteers who have experienced mental health issues in their life, it’s a positive way to support their own wellbeing and that of others.’ Stephen Baynes, Change Together volunteer

‘I think the best thing has been bringing people together to a safe and vibrant space where they can have meaningful experiences and conversations relating to mental health.’ Amy Copperthwaite, Change Together volunteer

Change Together team testimonies:

‘Change Together has been a fantastic journey so far. Using creativity and community, we are opening up the dialogue around mental health stigma. Our Change Together volunteers bring authenticity, courage and dedication to the cause; facilitating conversations in Hackney and Islington.’
Bex Large, Change Together Project Coordinator PBHA

‘Volunteer Centre Hackney are proud to be a part of Time to Change and are humbled by our Change Makers; the volunteers who have made Change Together such a success. Our volunteers are really at the centre of everything that happens, and our Steering Group is growing and shaping where we go next.’
Kate Barton, Head of Volunteering, VCH