United Utilities joins businesses ending stigma of mental health

Employers from across the North West will come together to wear green ribbons this week in a new drive to end the stigma of talking about mental health in the workplace.

Businesses including United Utilities, Barclays, PWC and BNFL Sellafield along with football clubs and mental health charities make up some of the organisations coming together to demonstrate to their employees that it is important to talk about mental health.

This is Me launched in Manchester on Monday 14th May to coincide with the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who supports the campaign was guest speaker at a launch event at the Hilton Deansgate.

This is Me challenges the stigma around mental health at work and aims to break the culture of silence by supporting people to tell their own stories. The campaign was created by Barclays in association with the Lord Mayor’s Appeal in the City of London and this is the first time the campaign will be launched outside the capital.

Steve Fraser, Chief Operating Officer at United Utilities, explained why the water company was involved with the campaign:

“Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year. As responsible businesses we all have an obligation to get involved and take an active interest in the wellbeing of our staff whilst creating environments where those in need can get the help and support required both now and in the future.”

Andy Burnham said: “Good mental health is fundamental to all our lives – an essential and precious resource that needs to be protected and enhanced. That’s why I’m pleased to be supporting This is Me, which is now being rolled out across Greater Manchester – showing once again how we are leading the way by being the first city region outside of London to adopt the campaign.

“In Greater Manchester, we know that poor mental health has a huge impact on the quality of people’s lives. It also presents a major challenge to increasing business productivity. For these reasons, improving workplace mental health plays a key role in our ambitions for improved wellbeing and growth across the city region.

“For responsible employers in Greater Manchester and the North West of England, this tool offers a vital opportunity to normalise conversations about mental health, build an open and supportive culture, and contribute to the health and happiness of their workforce, allowing them to thrive.”

Wastewater Production Manager, Garry Bigland, works for United Utilities. The 50-year-old dad from Droylsden has spoken out about his own experience with depression as part of the This Is Me campaign: 

“At first I was concerned that there was a stigma but ultimately I felt I had to be brave. By speaking out to make mental health issues more acceptable I’ve realised that I can show others it doesn’t need to hold you back.

“I was really encouraged by the attitude towards mental health in United Utilities. It’s recognised as a real illness and it can re really debilitating.

“I am a people person and I still find my job rewarding. I think it’s made me a better manager. I can recognise the early warning signs and ask people if they’re all right. Early intervention is so important.”