When The Yorkshire Evening Post first launched our #SpeakYourMind campaign five months ago, we wanted to make a real difference by helping to break down stigma surrounding mental health in Leeds.
The crucial campaign has called on people across the city to share their own experiences and struggles, and businesses to make workplaces mental health-friendly.
By improving understanding of mental illness across institutions that deal with every stage of life, and by being more aware of these issues as individuals, I believe we can make great strides.Prime Minister Theresa May
And after sharing countless stories, revealing the work of mental health projects in Leeds and raising awareness of the issue, the Prime Minister has today pledged her support to our #SpeakYourMind campaign.
Theresa May said: “I fully commend the Yorkshire Evening Post for working to challenge the stigma around mental health.
“Encouraging discussion is vital if we are to transform how we deal with mental illness in our society. That is why I welcome the paper’s focus on mental health and congratulate all those readers who have been brave enough to speak out and share their personal stories. For it is only by recognising the scale of the problem – and by understanding the impact mental health problems can have on a person’s life – that we can begin to tackle it.”
The support from Downing Street comes after Mrs May revealed, during a speech in January, her plan to make mental health a “priority” for the Government.
The plans aimed to tackle stigma and change attitudes towards mental health, as well as increase funding in schools to catch problems earlier. Today she praised work going on in Leeds, and reiterated the need for spending on mental health.
Mrs May said: “I want to see this problem addressed not just in hospitals but in our schools, at work and in our communities, which is why I’m pleased to see the very positive initiatives already taking place in Yorkshire.
“Transforming mental health services is one of my government’s key priorities and we are spending over £11bn on mental health – more than ever before. We’re also putting £12.5m into the Time to Change campaign, which encourages openness.
“Mental illness can affect anyone at any time, and early intervention is key.
“That’s why we are providing new support for schools, with every secondary in the country to be offered mental health training, and a new partnership with employers to improve support in the workplace.”
The YEP launched the #SpeakYourMind campaign in October 2016, with the aims of both raising awareness of mental health issues in Leeds and helping to combat the social stigma surrounding them.
During our launch week, we revealed exclusive interviews with city leaders and high-profile figures including former Leeds United star Clarke Carlisle and ex-Downing Street press secretary Alastair Campbell, who shared their own experiences with mental health.
The YEP also partnered with the Leeds Community Foundation for an event with more than 100 business leaders in Leeds to raise awareness of the need for mental health provision in the workplace.
As part of our campaign, we have also been urging people to get involved on social media.
We called on businesses in the city to sign up to the Mindful Employer Leeds charter –which urges organisations to make their workplaces mental health-friendly.
Since launching five months ago, our campaign has been backed by dozens of organisations and public figures, including Leeds MP Rachel Reeves, leader of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan, Leeds Beckett University and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Mrs May added: “By improving understanding of mental illness across institutions that deal with every stage of life, and by being more aware of these issues as individuals, I believe we can make great strides. The Yorkshire Evening Post’s campaign is an important part of that process.”
Our campaign continues, and we are still calling on people across Leeds to share their stories and help raise awareness of mental health in the city.
To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the #SpeakYourMind hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.