United Utilities joins Liverpool businesses to end stigma of mental health

Businesses across Merseyside are being urged to celebrate World Mental Health Day (Wednesday October 10) by signing up to a campaign to end the stigma around talking about mental health in the workplace.

Employers will converge on Liverpool Town Hall on October 10 for the Merseyside launch of This is Me – a collaboration between local employers and mental health charities to encourage people to share their experiences with colleagues.

The North West is the first area outside London to join the campaign, originally created by Barclays in association with the Lord Mayor’s Appeal in the City of London.

Regional businesses including United Utilities, Barclays, PWC and BNFL Sellafield are already signed up.

To support the Liverpool launch of This is Me, United Utilities, which has nearly 1,000 employees across Merseyside, and over 5,000 across the North West, are encouraging staff to open up about their own experiences of mental health by making a portrait of themselves, depicting how mental health makes them feel.

Based on an idea by the BBC, United Utilities’ Portraits of Mental Health will be shared with colleagues to end the stigma many feel.

One such portrait was created by Anna Webb an Administrator from Warrington.

She said: “My mental health has been a daily battle for as long as I can remember, but one that I don’t give up on. Probably the best thing about sharing experiences and issues is that there are lots of people that experience something similar to you and can suggest some of the coping strategies and self-care rituals that they use.”

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.”

Health and Safety business partner Rebecca Eaton said: “Good mental health is fundamental to all our lives and This is Me is a great way for employers of all sizes to share resources and expertise for the benefit of all their staff.

“Here at United Utilities, we have a network of mental health first aiders, a 24-hour confidential employee assistance programme and offer our staff therapies such as CBT for free.

“People are telling us that being able to talk about mental health has improved the workplace for them and being more open means that people are a lot more honest with us about why they need to take time off, which means we can do much more to offer support that’s effective.”

To mark its commitment to This is Me, and better mental health in general, United Utilities is dedicating the whole of the month of November to the issue with a host of information and events for employees across the whole business.