Celebrating difference - local mental health Trust creates film to raise awareness of neurodivergence

In support of World Autism Acceptance Week (28 March - 3 April), a group of staff at a Sussex mental health Trust have launched a new film to help encourage awareness of neurodiversity and the small changes that can make a big difference for those with neurodifference in the workplace.

The short film, 'Neurodivergence and Reasonable Adjustments', has been created by the Neurodivergent Staff Network at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, who provide specialist mental health and learning disability services for all ages across Sussex and children and young people in Hampshire. Staff network members identify with being neurodivergent, such as being autistic, or having ADHD, dyslexia or epilepsy, as well as allies who are members who value their neurodivergent colleagues.

It is recognised that the workplace is often a challenging environment for neurodivergent people, and sensory and social aspects of work demand a lot of additional energy and effort. For example, working in shared offices with lots of background noise can be really distracting and draining for someone who is neurodivergent. Understandably, this can impact upon productivity and wellbeing. A small change that could be made is for a manager/organisation to allow the member of staff to wear ear defenders or noise-cancelling headphones whilst in the office.

In the film, Rebecca Simmons, Matron for Neurodevelopmental Services and Co-Chair of the Neurodivergent Staff Network at Sussex Partnership, says: "Neurodiversity makes me feel really comfortable with being different and realise that I am different not less. It means there are people out there that I can connect with and it allows me to reach my potential and to contribute without feeling shame for my difference."

There are a number of conditions that come under the term of neurodivergence, including autism, which is a lifelong difference that affects how people communicate and interact with the world around them.

To watch the film, go to YouTube and search 'Neurodivergence and Reasonable Adjustments', or to find out more about the specialist services that Sussex Partnership provide across the South East, go to sussexpartnership.nhs.uk.

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