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Citizens Advice pledges to help end mental health prejudice
National charity Citizens Advice has signed up to the Time to Change campaign, pledging to do more to support staff, volunteers and clients with mental health problems.
Time to Change is England’s most ambitious programme to end the discrimination faced by people with mental health problems, and to improve the nation’s wellbeing.
Joining Citizens Advice in signing individual pledges at an event at The Emirates stadium last week were the Premier League and Sport Relief.
Teresa Perchard, Director of Public Policy at Citizens Advice, signed the pledge on behalf of the charity. She said:
“The Citizens Advice service pledges to provide a safe environment for staff, volunteers and clients to be open about their mental health problems without fear. We also pledge to fight discrimination on their behalf through our advice and social policy work.
“On a day to day basis bureaux often help people who have issues where there is an inextricable link to mental wellbeing. For example, somebody may have been discriminated against at work because of their mental health history, had problems keeping up with bill payments because of depression or have run up a number or significant debts as a result of their Bipolar Disorder. Seeking advice about a worrying or distressing issue often has a real and positive impact upon a persons mental wellbeing. Simply sharing the problem, and knowing that someone can help them resolve it is a huge weight off. We want to make sure that people know they can to turn us for free, impartial and confidential advice if they need to.”
As well as advice available through bureaux, the Citizens Advice network offers services to people with mental health problems through a number of outreach locations, including: 567 GP services, 67 mental health daycentres or drop ins and 11 psychiatric hospitals. There are also two CABs with specialist mental health projects in Sheffield and Salford. Anyone needing advice can find the details of their local CAB on www.adviceguide.org.uk, or by searching in the Yellow Pages.
Alex volunteers at a CAB in Kent and is also a mental health service user. She attended the pledge signing and said: “I choose to volunteer in my local CAB since it is therapeutic and something positive in my life. I can see the difference I am able to make in helping other people with some of their problems. The type of work is varied and this can be challenging, but I’m given good support and feel loyal to the service and what it stands for. We already do a lot to reach out and support people with mental health problems as well as fighting discrimination and stigma. I am pleased that Citizens Advice has signed up to this pledge and we’ve committed ourselves to doing all we can in support of Time to Change.”
From May, Citizens Advice will be giving clients the opportunity to allow bureaux to record any mental health issues they may personally identify with. This will help to gauge whether certain advice areas have stronger links to mental health problems and also whether there are any gaps in service provision for people who need support with their mental health.
1 Charities Mind and Rethink are leading the programme, funded with £16m from the Big Lottery Fund and £4m from Comic Relief and evaluated by the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London.
Notes to editors:
The Citizens Advice service is a network of independent charities that helps people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers.
For more information in England and Wales www.citizensadvice.org.uk
For more information and 2008/9 service statistics see Introduction to the service
For 2008/9 service highlights see the Citizens Advice service impact report
For 2008/9 social policy campaigning highlights see the Citizens Advice social policy impact report
The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at over 3,300 locations across England and Wales.
Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2 million clients on 6 million problems from April 2008 to March 2009
Advice and information www.adviceguide.org.uk
Volunteer hotline 08451 264264 (local rate)
Citizens Advice Guide to your rights, second edition: January 2008 - over 600 pages of practical, independent CAB advice. An invaluable resource for any bookshelf - available from all good bookshops; price £11.99; ISBN: 9780141034089
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