HEREFORDSHIRE'S social and mental health care provider is taking part in a new pilot scheme which aims to tackle stigma and discrimination.

2gether NHS Foundation Trust is working with Time to Change, the mental health anti-stigma campaign, the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), and people with experience of mental health problems, to pilot approaches to tackle stigma and discrimination reported within mental health services.

The pilot will focus on bringing together professionals and people who have used mental health services to facilitate an open dialogue about changes that could make a big difference to both people’s experience of mental health services and the experiences of staff.

The sessions will highlight positive examples of where mental health staff have challenged stigma and discrimination with the aim of empowering others to do the same.

Evaluation at the beginning and end of the pilot will measure improvements in staff attitudes and behaviour.

Shaun Clee, chief executive of 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, said: "At 2gether we have been committed to tackling mental health stigma for some time.

"The Time to Change initiative offers us further opportunity to reach our aspiration of providing the best service experience for people who use mental health services.

"As such, we have pledged to lead a series of forums this year, working with our teams to consider the ways we currently impact – either positively or negatively - upon the stigma felt by people who use mental health services.

"The sessions will be attended by staff at all levels of our organisation, and from a wide range of teams and services in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

"We will deliver the work alongside people with lived experience of our service, who will be invited to openly share their own experiences of interacting with 2gether staff. "Part of the work will be to consider ways in which practice can be enhanced to reduce mental health stigma. To do this, all participants will be invited to share their personal pledge to tackle mental stigma through and in their health care professional practice.”