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To mark World Mental Health Day 2018, This is Me was launched in two new areas: This is Me Scotland was launched meanwhile This is Me North West saw its second launch this time in Liverpool.

This is Me Scotland launched

Described by Scottish Government as an “important step”, This is Me Scotland aims to use the This is Me model to reduce the stigma of mental health and break the culture of workplace silence in Scotland, by supporting people to tell their own stories.

This is Me Scotland is being led by PwC, Barclays, alongside charities Business in the Community Scotland, SAMH and Samaritans. Along with the launch partners, Pinsent Mason, Martin Currie, Student Loans Company and Baillie Gifford are all on the This is Me Scotland Steering Committee.

More than 150 professionals came together at PwC’s Glasgow offices for the This is Me Scotland launch to demonstrate their belief in the importance of talking about mental health. Among businesses in attendance were major listed companies like RBS, Standard Life Aberdeen and Aggreko, to public sector organisations such as Police Scotland and Scottish Water.

Guest speaker Scott Hastings, the former Scotland, British & Irish Lions rugby international, and Ambassador - Support in Mind Scotland, spoke about the importance of good mental health, and making workers more comfortable discussing their mental health.

Scott said:

"I believe that the This is Me Scotland programme is a game changer that will reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

“It will also encourage more people to talk about mental health and wellness in a work environment and lead to more inclusive workplaces. The fact that so many companies are supporting 'This is Me', is to be applauded.”

The initiative also has the backing of the Scottish Government. Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey said:

“We want to ensure people dealing with mental health issues get the right help at the right time, free from discrimination and stigma. We are committed to working with employers on how they can act to protect and improve mental health, and support employees experiencing poor mental health.

“The launch of the This is Me Scotland campaign is an important step in creating workplaces and a society where people can talk openly without stigma or discrimination.”

Philippe Guijarro, an Edinburgh-based partner in PwC, has spearheaded the Scottish launch and is the founding chairman of This is Me Scotland. He said:

“More businesses of all shapes and sizes are beginning to realise how important it is to be mindful of the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. The launch of This is Me Scotland, will help improve that further by letting people know that it’s okay to talk openly about mental help.

“PwC remains committed to create a workplace where everyone is able to achieve their full potential.”

Scott Stewart, Barclays Scotland Site Lead, is passionate about ensuring all colleagues can feel supported in the workplace:

“The partnership between Barclays, PwC, SAMH, Business in the Community Scotland and the Samaritans has enabled us to leverage combined passion and knowledge to drive change across corporate Scotland.

This is Me Scotland will allow us to learn from each other and utilise our combined resources to demonstrate the importance of openly discussing mental health to encourage a supportive and understanding culture in the workplace”

For more information about This is Me Scotland please visit www.cosla.gov.uk/ThisisMeScotland #ThisisMeScotland

Register your interest in the campaign here.

This is Me North West launches in Liverpool

This is Me North West has joined forces Liverpool City Council to launch This is Me in Liverpool with a call to action to “challenge the stigma and don’t be afraid to talk about how you really feel.”

Liverpool Town Hall was the venue for the launch, which saw more than 100 delegates turn out to show support for the campaign. Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, who officially opened the event, said the council would play a leading role in promoting good mental health amongst its workforce.

Mayor Anderson said: “The real challenge is to change people’s perceptions and challenge the stigma that surrounds mental health wherever we find it.”

“The message is, if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to talk to people. In the city council we will be setting up teams within the different departments who will be able to give support to anyone who has issues that they need to talk about. We are encouraging everyone to have a conversation about their mental health. I would urge everyone to speak to one of your colleagues and take the time to tell them how you feel today.”

This is Me North West is being driven by Barclays and PwC, along with a host of big name companies, including Seddon Construction, Sellafield, Manchester Airport Group and charities Mind and Samaritans. Leading the charge for Liverpool was Barclays North West Director of Transformation, Christine Meakin. Mum of two Christine told the audience how she experienced ‘burnout’ in 2014.

“I never thought I’d be someone who’d suffer from anxiety or stress – I thought I was too strong,” said Christine. “I was pushing myself to be everything to everyone because I didn’t want to let people down,”

“I was in denial about how I felt, but I didn’t want people to see that I was struggling and I didn’t want to ask for help because I saw it as a sign of weakness.”

Christine told the audience how she eventually spoke to her employer about how she was feeling, which led to her taking five months off to recover.

She added: “What’s most important is that people are talking about mental health and that they don’t feel ashamed if they are struggling with it. If I’d known more about wellbeing when this happened I may not have reached the low that I did. I learned that stress is indiscriminate, it can happen to anyone and is not a sign of weakness. Taking the first step is hard, but once you’ve taken it you won’t look back. I felt like a weight had been lifted when I opened up.”

To find out more about This is Me North West in Liverpool, visit: liverpool.gov.uk/thisisme #ThisisMeNW

Register your interest in the campaign here.

Chris Meakin, Barclays and Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool