Sunderland College has officially signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge to demonstrate their commitment to changing perceptions towards mental health in the workplace.

As part of their commitment, the College will be training a team of mental health first aiders to support staff and students who are experiencing mental health issues. The College aims for 100 staff to complete their mental health first aid training by 2020.

Sunderland College’s Chair of Governors, Rob Lawson, officially signed the employer pledge on Thursday 7 February with Principal and Chief Executive Ellen Thinnesen, to coincide with Time to Talk Day. The College held a special event at its City Campus to celebrate the signing, and invited local mental health organisations; Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Services, Mental Health Matters and Able Futures.

Mr Lawson said: “We value the health and wellbeing of all our staff and students at Sunderland College. I am delighted to sign this pledge to show our commitment to change the way we think and act about mental health and to ensure staff and students feel supported in talking about any mental health issues.”

Naomi Robson, Director of People and Development at Sunderland College, added: “Talking about mental health and challenging the stigma can make a real difference to employee absence rates, productivity and wellbeing.

“By 2020, one in seven member of staff across all our campuses will be trained and able to support staff and students who may be struggling with the mental health. We are aiming to ensure mental health first aiders and physical first aiders are on an equal footing.

“We are also continuing to develop mental health awareness, provide resilience training and encouraging staff and students to have conversations about their mental health.”

Time to Change is a social movement led by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. By signing the Employer Pledge, the College is joining a growing number of employers across England who are committed to encouraging debate and challenging the sigma around mental health.

Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change said: We’re delighted that Sunderland College is signing the Time to Change Employers Pledge. By signing the pledge, the College is showing 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. 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 Sunderland College taking the lead.”

For more information about Sunderland College visit the next open event, ring 0191 511 6000 or go to www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk

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