3 new ‘see me’ Pledges end the busy year on a high note: Lothian and Borders Police, Advocacy Matters and East Dunbartonshire Council sign up to support ‘see me’
December started with the Chief Constable, David Strang, signing the anti-stigma Pledge on 3rd December on behalf of Lothian and Borders Police – underlining The Force’s commitment to eliminating discrimination in the workplace, and from society as a whole. The Force already supports the recruitment of individuals based on their skills and qualifications and is strongly opposed to discrimination on grounds of health, race, gender, age or religious belief.
Following the signing of the pledge, Lothian and Borders Police will be putting new initiatives in place aimed at eliminating the stigma of mental health in the workplace. These initiatives include long-term support initiatives provided through the Welfare and Well-Being Unit such as the Employee Assistance Programme and a similar, government-assisted scheme called Breathing Space.
Chief Constable David Strang said:
“We will be promoting education on tackling stigma by arranging a mental-health awareness seminar for staff and providing information on the intranet, via a newsletter and table displays. The intention is to improve awareness both as an employer & a service-provider.
“We have also arranged for Joint-branded posters to be printed which will be available as of today.”
Commenting on Lothian and Borders Police signing the Pledge, Suzie Vestri, Campaign Director for ‘see me’ said:
“Gaining the support of the Police Force in Lothian and Borders is a huge boost to anti-stigma work across the City of Edinburgh, East, West and Midlothian as well as the Scottish Borders.
“Not only will it help us work with the Force to promote tolerance and understanding amongst its own employees towards colleagues with mental health problems; it will also help impact on the wider community.
“By working together we can help to improve the lives of the 1 in 4 people who experience mental health problems.”
This was shortly followed by Advocacy Matters (Greater Glasgow) who signed the Pledge on 9th December. As an independent advocacy organisation who provides a highly effective, professional, issue–based independent advocacy service for individuals with mental health problems in Greater Glasgow from the age of 16 and over, Advocacy Matters is already closely linked to ‘see me’ ethos and messages.
However, following the Pledge signing Advocacy Matters will add a page on their website dedicated to ending stigma/discrimination and publicising ‘see me.’ They will also promote the message through their organisational e-mails, at conferences and events, and displaying up-to-date ‘see me’ posters and leaflets in Head Office and at their four Hospital offices. The organisation will also encourage all members of staff, board trustees and service users to join Stigma Stop Watch.
The final signatory in this burst of December Pledge activity was East Dunbartonshire Council, who on 11th December underlined its commitment to being an equal opportunities employer by signing up to the ‘see me’ anti-stigma Pledge.
One in four Scots will experience a mental health problem at some stage in their life and recent research found that 81% of them felt stigmatised as a result with many saying that the stigma they experience is worse than the mental health problem itself. The fear of stigma can prevent people from applying for jobs for which they would be qualified.
The Council is the area’s biggest employer and so Council Leader Rhondda Geekie believes that it is right to lead by example and publicly support the campaign to eliminate stigma in the workplace.
She said, “For too long mental health has been an issue which many people have shunned away from discussing and as a result, there can be stigma attached to people who have suffered such problems. This campaign aims to challenge that stigma and I am proud to have signed the ‘see me’ pledge on behalf of the Council, making our position as an employer quite clear”
After the pledge signing, ‘see me’s Campaign Director, Suzie Vestri said, “For the 110,000 people who live in the area covered by East Dunbartonshire Council, today’s Pledge signing is a firm commitment that stigma and discrimination will not be tolerated. As both an employer and service provider, the Council’s influence is far reaching and will have a positive impact on the lives of both their employees and the wider community.”
‘see me’ aims to make people ‘see the person and not the label’ and the Pledge text reads:
We, the undersigned, are committed to work as part of the ‘see me’ campaign to challenge the stigma associated with mental ill-health, and to eliminate the discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems.