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Time To Change

5th December 2019

A guest blog by Elisse Grint – Assurance Team Lead, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) signed up to the Time To Change pledge in 2011 and reaffirmed this pledge in 2017: “We pledge to change the way we think and act about mental health at work.”

From this a small group of like-minded people, many with lived experience of mental illness, came together and formed the CUH Time To Change Group.

As a group we have sought different ways to engage with our colleagues across the Trust to raise mental health awareness, reduce stigma and challenge discrimination. Examples of our activities include visiting teams and sharing lived experiences; sharing information on how to recognise a colleague who may need further support. We have also raised awareness of the mental health campaign Time to Change through roadshows and communications campaigns.

Monica Jacot (Equality Diversity & Inclusion Lead),  Sue Baker CEO of Time to Change, Elisse Grint (Assurance Team Lead).

We have an annual variety show held on World Mental Health Day called “Open Mind Night”, the performers entertain the audience with singing, poetry and comedy inspired by their own lived experience. We have teamed up with the Greyhound Trust and Pets as Therapy because dogs help to break down barriers and encourage people to talk to us about mental health who maybe wouldn’t have before. Our ‘Meet the Black Dog Event’ is now featured as a suggested event on the Time to Change Website.

August Ashworth (Chair of LGBT staff network) & Alex Montgomery Time to Change Champion (Estates & Facilities administrator).

Through our work we have started to see a shift in attitudes towards the subject of mental health. As we foster a more open and accepting culture there has been an increase in the number of people who now declare anxiety/ depression/ stress as a reason for being off sick.

The group has also been able to take the Time to Change campaign to the Trust’s Board of Directors and we have been welcomed to work with the Equality Diversity & Inclusion team as well as the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Team. 

Monica Jacot (Equality Diversity & Inclusion Lead), David Wherrett (Director of Workforce), Roland Sinker (CEO of Cambridge University Hospital NHS Trust), Elisse Grint  (Assurance Team Lead), Sue Baker CEO of Time to Change.

This year has seen the launch of the NHS’s Working Disability Equality Standards (WDES). Its purpose is to review and address any inequalities that may exist for staff with disabilities. The CUH Time to Change Group is happily involved with the exciting project and look to ensure that Mental Health is viewed equally to Physical Health.

The members of the group are volunteers who, over the years, have put in a lot of their own time. The group has also generated development opportunities for those who might find development difficult through traditional channels. The Time to Change Group is made up of both clinical and non-clinical staff. We generally find that due to more flexibility in the non-clinical staff workload they are able to devote more of their time to meetings and events forming the basis from which we can drive change.

I am proud to be a member of this passionate and dynamic group and look forward to what we may achieve in the future.

Elisse Grint

Assurance Team Lead

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.