Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission
Today I am very proud to be signing the Time To Change pledge on behalf of the Care Quality Commission — a clear signal of our commitment to end the stigma attached to mental health and make CQC a safe place for people to talk about their own mental health. As the regulator setting, monitoring and inspecting standards for health and social care, it is important that we are a positive role model and walk the talk of good care and that starts with our staff.
Mental ill health touches the lives of so many people, but because there is still such a stigma, it remains hidden, unspoken, a “shameful” secret exacerbating feelings of isolation, despair and abandonment. Help is not asked for and people are reluctant to explain how they are feeling. In turn, friends, family and work colleagues feel awkward about asking, don’t know how to respond, worry about saying the wrong thing.
Time to talk
Taking time to talk can change that. I am not saying it is easy and that every attempt at a conversation will be a success — but we have to start somewhere and the testimony of many who have experienced mental ill health shows how much people do appreciate the care and consideration a simple conversation can bring.
Of course, signing a pledge is one thing — it has to be backed by action to be meaningful and like every other organisation, CQC has an agreed plan to make our positive intentions a reality. There are two specific initiatives I would like to highlight.
The first, a series of personal stories “This is me” where members of staff talk candidly about their own experience of mental health. The second is a mental health awareness course for managers to help us understand how best to support our staff.
I have written a story and taken part in the training already. Both initiatives will, I hope, make CQC a safer place for us all to talk about our mental health and encourage other health and care organisations to make this a priority too.