Mental health programme Time to Change Wales extended by three years

A campaign to help people to talk about mental health and to end discrimination has received an additional £1.4m to extend the programme by three years, Welsh Government Ministers have announced today.

The Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle and Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething have today confirmed the additional funding for Time to Change Wales will see the programme extended until 2025.

Time to Change Wales’ central aim is to challenge and change negative attitudes and behaviours towards mental ill health. The programme concentrates on four key areas: partnerships; employers and the workplace; health and social care; and social marketing. The campaign is delivered by a partnership of two leading Welsh charities; Mind Cymru and Adferiad Recovery.

The new phase of work will have particular focus on working with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and employers in areas of poverty and deprivation. In previous years the programme has focused on increasing engagement with men through the Talking Is A Lifeline campaign and increasing the number of Welsh speakers involved.

One key part of Time to Change Wales is working with employers to create more open cultures around discussing mental health at work and provide employers with practical resources including an Employer Toolkit and training.

Around one in four Welsh workforces have pledged their support to the campaign already, representing around 320,000 employees. Organisations signed up include third sector organisations, all four police forces, all local health boards, private companies and SMEs.

One company who has taken the Time to Change Wales pledge is Safety Letterbox Company Ltd based in Neath, who employ 60 people from the local area.

The company signed up in August 2021 and is committed to prioritising the mental wellbeing of its employees by running wellbeing activities and establishing an open-door policy to discuss workload and mental health.

To date they have nine Mental Health First Aiders who play a key role in supporting the workforce.

Alison Orrells CEO and Managing Director of Safety Letterbox Company LTD, said:

“We aim to create an open, supportive, and collaborative culture to enable people to shine and thrive, take ownership and to make a difference, this applies to everyone.

We aim to remove any stigma regarding Mental health in the workplace to enable us to support and provide the best we can for our employees enabling them to feel relaxed and able to do their job safely, comfortably, and successfully.

20% of our workforce are mental health first aiders, this is a commitment to enable us to be aware, help and support as best we can.

Signing the Time to change pledge highlights our commitment to mental health in the workplace to those within our business and anyone considering working with us. Everyone has mental health. We want people to be able to shine and do well, relaxed and focused in their role, in doing so that helps our business, therefore we need to do whatever we can to enable everyone to thrive.”

The new funding for Time to Change Wales will also see a roll out of a new and innovative learning module for health and social care staff specifically focussing on tackling mental health stigma and improving patients’ experiences. This follows a successful trial in 2021-22.

Time to Change Wales will also continue to recruit Champions who have experience of mental ill health. They help to share their stories and deliver presentations and anti-stigma training to community groups, workplaces and organisations. To date there are over 50 champions working across Wales.

Deputy Minister for Mental health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, said:

“I am pleased we are able to provide further funding to help extend Time to Change Wales. The project is helping to end discrimination and encouraging people to have open and honest conversations about mental health. The four strands that Time to Change Wales supports provide great opportunities to share best practice across many parts of our daily life.

We know that the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on those from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and I am pleased Time to Change Wales will focus on working with communities utilising this new funding.

Many of us spend a lot of our daily life at work so it’s essential we create working environments that support any ill health, whether mental or physical.  I am pleased to hear the experience of Safety Letterbox Company and how Time to Change Wales has had a positive effect on their workforce and it’s fantastic to see such a huge commitment from them as an employer in support the wellbeing of their staff.

I hope the funding announced today will build on the momentum that Time to Change Wales has already achieved.”

Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Good mental health is absolutely vital in order for people to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. The Welsh Government is fully committed to tackling the unacceptable stigma and discrimination faced by people suffering from mental ill-health.

So I am delighted this important campaign is being extended. It will have a particular focus on the wellbeing of people in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, as well as in workplaces in the most deprived parts of Wales.

While we’ve made good progress, there is still more work to be done so that we create the healthier, fairer and more prosperous Wales we all want to see. Time to Change Wales is crucial in our efforts to help us to achieve that ambition.”

June Jones, Interim Time To Change Wales Programme Manager said:

“This is an exciting and important time for Time to Change Wales as it gears up to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination within socially deprived and minority ethnic communities. With the support from our Champions, Pledged Organisations and partners, we will ensure we provide a platform for the hidden voices and improve the understanding of mental health across all areas in Wales. Tackling stigma is the key to ensuring people across Wales have better and more supported mental health. In this way, we will build a programme that ensures that everyone can benefit equally from the anti-stigma mental health work of Time to Change Wales.”