Dorset County Council have joined the fight to wipe out stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
Council chairman, John Wilson, member champion for mental health, Michael Bevan and Catherine Driscoll, director for adult and community services, pledged their support for the national campaign, ‘Time to Change’ at a recent ceremony in Dorchester.
The campaign is led by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
The county council is one of the first local authorities in the country to have signed the pledge, and was also the first council to appoint a member champion for mental health.
The ceremony took place at the Dorford Centre, and was attended by a host of representatives from local and national organisations.
Andy Bell, deputy chief executive of Centre for Mental Health addresses the audience and explained how mental illness can affect every aspect of people’s lives.
He said that at any one time, one worker in six will be experiencing depression, anxiety or a problem relating to stress, and the cost to the economy is £26 billion each year.
He praised the effort of Dorset County Council, and said the commitment shown would help encourage other local authorities to take up the challenge and reduce the stigma of mental illness.
Sue Baker, national director of ‘Time to Change’, shared her personal experience and talked about the new national campaign to encourage people to have more open conversations around the subject of mental health. She said local authorities have a key role to play in improving mental health in their communities, and that the progress made in Dorset would inspire others to follow.
Cllr Bevan said: “Most of us have trouble coping at times, and mental health problems are common enough that most of us will know somebody who has been affected in some way. We need to raise awareness and tackle any misconceptions or myths that exist.
“We want to encourage people in Dorset to speak out and talk about mental health problems so they can get the support and services they need without fear of judgment.
“Protecting vulnerable people is at the heart of what we do, and the pledge illustrates our dedication to end mental health discrimination. The council will continue to invest in a supportive environment that promotes mental wellbeing for both our staff and the public we serve.”
If you or anyone you know need advice on mental health and services available log onto: www.dorsetforyou.com/mental-health