The Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling, today committed the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) to promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace by signing up to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s Mental Health Charter.
The Charter sets out five commitments that employers and service providers will work to deliver. The commitments for staff with mental illness include: an open and inclusive workplace culture; promotion of equality of opportunity and challenge discrimination in the workplace; equality of opportunity in recruitment and selection; identification and provision of sources of information and support; and adoption of Every Customer Counts recommendations.
Mr Sterling signed the Mental Health Charter on behalf of the NICS at an event held at NICS HR Headquarters in Belfast. Signing the Charter, Mr Sterling said:
“As one of Northern Ireland’s largest employers, the NICS has a duty to protect the mental health of our 23,000 staff. Signing up to the Equality Commission’s Mental Health Charter today is a powerful signal of our commitment to provide a healthy, inclusive and open workplace both for staff and for the public who use our services.
“The NICS already provides a range of support to staff to help them maintain good mental health and to support those suffering mental ill health. But more can be done and the Charter will provide an impetus to ensuring a joined up approach to our mental health related polices and support across the NICS.”
The event was also attended by Dr Evelyn Collins CBE, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission who welcomed the NICS’ commitment to the Charter. Dr Collins noted:
““The NICS is making an important commitment to improving the working lives of employees experiencing mental ill-health by signing this Mental Health Charter. We would encourage other employers to follow the lead of this significant employer and support employees with mental ill health reach their full potential and contribute fully at work”
The event also provided an opportunity to raise awareness among NICS staff of the range of support and resources available to them to help support their mental well-being. A number of lunchtime sessions were delivered around the themes of mental resilience, mindfulness, how food affects mood, sleep and stress and financial management, with organisations such as Inspire, NICS WELL, the NICS Welfare Service and the Charity for Civil Service providing information to staff.
Information on the Mental Health Charter can be found at http://www.equalityni.org/MentalHealthCharter
Notes to editors:
- The Equality Commission promotes the Mental Health Charter with a number of partners - Action Mental Health, Change Your Mind, Disability Action, Foundation for Mental Health, Mindwise and Niamh (now Inspire).
- The NICS is one of the largest employers to sign up to the Charter, to date. Other public sector signatories include Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the Southern Regional College.
- There is a comprehensive range of policies and procedures in place to address sickness absence in the NICS. Help and support for staff at work and throughout their illness is available, including professional interventions, assistance with rehabilitation and reasonable adjustments.There is also a strong emphasis on preventative measures by offering a range of work-life balance initiatives and healthy lifestyle programmes.
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