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NHS, Police and Council Partners Pledge to Tackle Stigma

June 26, 2009 11:25 AM

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Scotland’s largest health board and police force together with six neighbouring local authorities have today pledged their joint commitment to tackling the stigma associated with mental ill health.

Representatives from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Strathclyde Police, Glasgow City Council, Inverclyde Council, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire Councils and East and West Dunbartonshire Councils all signed the ‘see me’ pledge at a special event in Glasgow.

One in four Scots will experience mental health problems at some stage in their life. Disturbingly research carried our by ‘see me’ - Scotland’s national campaign to end stigma and discrimination around mental ill-health – found that 81% of people with mental health problems reported being stigmatized and many of those surveyed said that the stigma of mental illness was worse than the illness itself.

Anne Hawkins, Director of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Mental Health Partnership, said:  “I am delighted to be able to commit our health board to the ‘see me’ Pledge. We have recognised for some time that people who experience mental health problems – and their careers – can be subject to stigma and discrimination, adding an extra burden to their full participation in community life.

“We have invested consistently in tackling stigma for more than six years, and have been tremendously encouraged at the number of our partners who have committed time and energy to working with us on our important work.”

Suzie Vestri, 'see me' Campaign Director, said:  “Today's pledge is a important declaration for all the partners involved and we are grateful for their support and commitment in addressing the stigma of mental health in the west of Scotland. Local authorities and NHS partnerships have a vital role to play in tackling the stigma of mental health for both staff and patients, and we hope that other authorities across the country will follow NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire Councils example and also pledge their support in 2009.”

Councillor George Redmond, Glasgow City Council's Executive Member for Health and Well-being, said:  "Promoting mental health and tackling stigma and discrimination are vital areas of activity for local authorities.

"By challenging stigma we can help people play a full and active part in out society - both socially and economically.

"I am delighted to sign the pledge on behalf of Glasgow City Council and also very pleased to see our neighbouring authorities in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area are making the exact same commitment."

In addition to the signing of the ‘see me’ Pledge, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde also set out it’s ambitious programme of anti-stigma activity - with projects ranging from addressing discrimination in the workplace and schools to the largest mental health arts festival in the world which seeks to challenge and counter negative perceptions.

Superintendent Michelle Martin from Strathclyde Police added:  “We recognise the importance of mental health to community well-being and are very pleased to be signing the ‘see me’ pledge along with the Health Board and our local authority partners. Along with colleagues throughout the Scottish Police Service, Strathclyde Police is working hard to improve the awareness and understanding of mental health issues - we are improving mental health training for front line staff and fully support the Choose Life suicide prevention initiative.”

ENDS

For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.

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