SALISBURY City Council has signed a new pledge showing its commitment to "break the silence" around mental health in the workplace.

The Time to Change Employer Pledge was signed during a ceremony at the Guildhall on Thursday (February 6).

By signing the pledge, it has committed to changing the way it thinks and acts about mental health in the workplace.

Since 2009, Time to Change, run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, has been supporting employers to a create a more open and understanding culture around mental health problems in the workplace, assisting employers to develop their workplace wellbeing interventions and action plans and providing a range of free resources, training and networking events.

Some of the city council’s plans include:

• Continuing to support its mental health champion programme

• Considering mental wellbeing in its staff development plan

• Managers working with teams in discussing stress risk assessments

• Continuing to raise awareness including those recognised as National and International days

• Managers promoting lunch breaks by role modelling

• Design and implement a standalone mental wellbeing policy

The chairman of the personnel committee, Councillor Atiqul Hoque said: “This is a fantastic step to help break the silence and end the stigma around mental health. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at any one time so it is important to commit to an action plan to work on that stigma and promote a positive mental wellbeing."

Time to Change is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, Comic Relief and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Jo Loughran, the director of Time to Change said: “We’re delighted to see Salisbury City Council take the Time to Change Employers Pledge. By signing the pledge, they are demonstrating a real commitment to changing the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace.

“We know it can be hard to talk about mental health, which is why we work with employers to encourage staff at all levels to open up; to talk and to listen. Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless, but with the right support, those of us with mental health problems can recover and have equal opportunities in all areas of life. Everyone’s attitude makes a difference and it’s fantastic to see organisations like Salisbury City Council taking the lead.”

The cost of poor mental health to UK employers has been estimated to be between £33 billion and £42 billion, according to the Thriving at Work Report published in 2017.

Ms Loughran added: “Many leading employers have found that making a strategic commitment to the mental wellbeing of their workforce not only benefits their staff but also their bottom-line, improving productivity and staff retention. With one in six British workers experiencing mental illness it's time for businesses to make a change and start creating more mentally healthy workplaces."