Health Improvement Champions – Time to Talk Day
Stigma Free Lanarkshire has 6 new Stigma Champions from NHS Lanarkshire’s Health Improvement team. The champions are all locally based Health Improvement Practitioners from throughout Lanarkshire with a passion for tackling mental health stigma and discrimination. NHS Lanarkshire has an ongoing commitment to mental health improvement and ending the stigma and discrimination that often surrounds mental health and mental health problems.
As part of their role the champions joined forces to engage colleagues and the community in Time to Talk Day 2021 with this year’s theme being the Power of Small. They embarked on a social media campaign to invite everyone to get involved and to let people know that a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.
On Facebook some of the champions shared what they do to look after their own mental health to lead the way in openness, help normalise conversations and to encourage others to have a think about what they do to look after their mental health.
The champions used online events to challenge stigma and raise awareness in the workplace. They used Time to Talk’s mental health quiz with colleagues at team meetings to open up discussion and bust some of the myths that often surround mental health.
From Time to Talk being an item on the South Health Improvement Team Meeting agenda, it opened up a discussion around having time to talk with colleagues about topics other than work and the importance of it, especially during the pandemic. As a result, there is now a protected slot during the weekly catch-up meetings, providing staff with the opportunity to have a wee blether about what helps with their mental health and wellbeing.
The team in Lanarkshire embraced the virtual world and used a digital whiteboard that allows for remote collaboration on a shared space. Colleagues shared their thoughts on how they think stigma can be reduced. Responses included sharing real life stories of mental health problems, listening and sharing experiences, educating ourselves on mental health issues and stigma, not judging, being honest with one another and encouraging acceptance.
The staff also explored what the barriers to discussing mental health might be. One of the comments was ‘being judged’. This highlighted the importance that supportive, non-stigmatising behaviour plays in help seeking and promoting positive mental health. The teams were then asked what methods of self-care they use. There were plenty of responses, lots of fun activities and staff were able to get a little inspiration and ideas from their colleagues. This workplace activity as a whole really opened up a safe place for people to express their thoughts and ideas around mental health and could be replicated in any setting.
“I really enjoyed the digital whiteboard activity. Seeing other HI staff adding their responses made it feel more like a group activity than just answering some questions. It was also nice to see what others do for self-care”. Staff member
HMP Shotts got involved in Time to Talk Day by taking part in various activities from the pack. There was a focus on openness and self –care. Prisoners were provided with activities that could be done in their cells, whilst staff were provided with signposting information to raise awareness of a peer led programme to support and encourage them to reach out should they be struggling with their mental health.
South Lanarkshire Council Education Resources included Time to Talk Day campaign information and a link to the school activity pack as part of an electronic Health and Wellbeing communication to all establishments. Awareness raising and sharing was evident on many of the school social media platforms. The SLC Youth Family and Community Learning Service also shared the campaign across the service and asked to be linked in with any future activities and initiatives.
Agape, a charity in East Kilbride dedicated to helping the local community through a variety of health and wellbeing activities reached 800 people via their Facebook and Twitter platforms with campaign information and it was also discussed at their weekly coffee and chat group.
A Healthcare Chaplain from the NHS Lanarkshire Staff Care and Wellbeing Service shared details of the day with colleagues and staff across the 3 Acute Hospital sites and also featured on their social media platforms.
The Health Improvement Practitioners are looking forward to building on all they’ve learned as we remind ourselves that conversations aren’t just for one day. When we create open, stigma free safe places we encourage people to talk openly about mental health and mental health problems and that is for every day of the year.