Dan Parton (07/02/12) hopesa new campaign will herald a Time for Change...    


Last month Hollywood star Brad Pitt admitted publicly that hehas battled depression in the past. It was a timely reminder thatmental illness can happen to anyone at any time, and came justafter the launch of a new initiative from anti-stigma campaigngroup Time to Change that encourages people to talk about theirproblems.


Time to Change's new campaign is called 'Its time to change. Itstime to talk', with the aim to get more people talking about mentalhealth issues, thereby challenging the stigma that can grow when itis not spoken about.


It seems that talking about our mental health is somethingpeople in the UK are still not good at. While mental health stigmais not what it once was, it is still a problem and many people donot feel comfortable or able to talk about their feelings.


Statistics released to coincide with the campaign revealed:

o Only 15% of the British public admit to being truthfulall of the time about how they're really feeling
o Younger people between 18 and 24 years are twice as likely(27%) to hide how they're feeling compared to those aged 65 andover (12%)
o A third of people confess the reason they're not alwayshonest is because they don't want to depress other people (37%) ordon't like talking about how they're feeling (35%).


These statistics don't surprise me. Talking about feelings isdifficult - and other people don't always want to listen. At leastsome of that will be down to the stigma of having a mental healthproblem.


This is why Time to Change's campaign is needed. The adverts ontelevision that form part of the campaign have made an impact andgot people thinking and, hopefully, talking, which is a step in theright direction.


Let's hope people take the lead from this campaign and followseveral well-known figures who have spoken openly about theirmental health problems in recent years, including actor/presenterStephen Fry to Somerset and England cricketer MarcusTrescothick.


Such public admissions are very welcome; it all helps to'normalise' mental health problems in the public eye and make itpart of everyday life - which, of course, it is. With celebritymagazine favourites such as Brad Pitt also talking about mentalhealth, it can only encourage others to do the same.


Time to Change has done some great work in addressing mentalhealth stigma in the past four years, and this latest campaignshould carry on that work. As the organisation admits, challengingmental health stigma is a long-term aim, but with funding secureduntil 2015, plans can be laid for more sustained campaigning andadvertising that will keep mental health in the public eye and helppeople to open up and talk and break down the stigma that stillexists.