Be the Change Conference: 28 Jan 2013

Eliminating stigma surrounding mental health problems in our businesses and communities

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300 BUSINESS DELEGATES GATHER TO ‘BE THE CHANGE’ IN IRISH WORKPLACE ATTITUDES TO MENTAL HEALTH

A major conference hosted by the Community Foundation for Ireland and See Change will see 300 employers, managers, HR specialists and community leaders come together to learn how the stigma surrounding mental health problems in our businesses & communities can be eliminated.

The ‘Be the Change’ conference, taking place on January Monday 28th at the Hilton Hotel, Charlemont Place (D2), sets out to help spark a national discussion on how each of us as individuals can play a role in creating this open culture towards mental health in Irish workplaces and communities.

The Community Foundation for Ireland and See Change have teamed up with with AHEAD, Business in the Community Ireland, IBEC, Kanchi, Suicide or Survive and the Equality Authority to gather voices from Irish business and civil society to put forward our shared vision for communities and workplaces where people can be open and honest about their mental health.

Tina Roche, CEO, the Community Foundation for Ireland said

“Both See Change and the Community Foundation for Ireland share a similar vision of breaking down barriers in business and society by encouraging people to talk about mental health in their communities and workplace. The conference today is focused on how these issues can be addressed in the workplace and making the workplace a more open and accepting environment for mental health issues to be discussed.”

Underscoring the need for culture-change towards mental health in Irish workplaces, John Saunders, director of See Change said

“See Change’s most recent research has found that a large portion of Irish people would deliberately conceal a mental health problem at work for fear that it would have a negative impact on career prospects and professional relationships.*

He continued “This perceived fear belies the fact that individuals and organisations work better in open and supportive environments. The ‘Be the Change’ conference sessions will give employers the tools to support employees and optimise the resources and talent of their staff.”

To spark conversation of the much-hushed subject of mental health, conference delegates will first be treated to a specially commissioned theatre piece by Smashing Theatre Company followed by a ‘chat-show’ segment hosted by Newstalk broadcaster Dil Wickremasinghe that allows 3 See Change ambassadors share the stories of their own mental health experiences. There will also be sessions dedicated to providing employers, managers and HR representatives with the tools to create open workplace cultures towards mental health with practical guidance for line managers from IBEC, tips on managing mental health disclosures by AHEAD and a masterclass in online engagement to challenge stigma by social media expert Darragh Doyle. The Kanchi Network will also host the highly successful Ability Cafe where business and disability experts provide one-to-one guidance and feedback.

*According to a 2012 nationally representative survey commissioned by See Change and conducted by Millward Brown Lansdowne around Irish attitudes to mental health problems:

  • 57% of those surveyed believe that being open about a mental health problem at work would have a negative impact on job and career prospects, up from 48% in 2010.
  • 47% of those surveyed believe that being open about a mental health problem at work would have a negative effect on a person’s relationship with colleagues, up from 36% in 2010.

Download the conference brochure

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