Mental health

Yorwaste is backing a new initiative aimed at reducing the stigma attached to mental health in the workplace and encouraging staff to work in ways which promote positive mental well-being.

The company has signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge, part of a national campaign looking at the way people think and act about mental health problems.

Led by mental health charities Rethink Mental Health and Mind, the initiative supports employers wishing to take a positive approach to tackling mental health in the workplace.

As part of this Yorwaste has drawn up an action plan which has already led to the introduction of accredited mental health awareness training for managers and each member of staff being given a booklet which provides guidance and signposting to better mental health.

Further activity will include employee briefings and the implementation of an employee mental health advocate service in 2020. The latter will involve staff being trained to act as advocates to challenge stigma by raising awareness of available support and running campaigns throughout the year.

The initiative at Yorwaste is being led by Kevin Smith, Head of Corporate Services.

Kevin, a former Army Major, has experienced his own mental health problems after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) two years ago. This was as a direct result of a 12-month tour of Afghanistan in 2009/10.

He says: “These didn’t start to manifest until I left the Army and joined Yorwaste and the main symptom was severe anxiety, but I remained in denial for so long.

“It was only in 2018 when I was formally diagnosed with PTSD that I realised I had a problem and that I couldn’t fix it myself. So, I sought professional support, and this has made me better placed to address my own mental health.

“By signing up to the pledge we are saying to staff that it’s ok if they don’t feel 100% all the time and that there are colleagues who have been through this as well and that were are here to support them.

“We want to remove the stigma which surrounds mental health and to encourage staff to look out for each other so we can tackle any problems together.”

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