Three quarters of people who experience mental health problems say they lose friends as a result of their illness, a survey has found.
The survey, commissioned by anti-stigma campaign Time to Change, also found that 40% of British adults would feel awkward talking to a friend who was experiencing a mental health problem. Additionally, only 27% feel it would be their responsibility to bring the subject up if they knew a friend was going through a tough time with their mental health.
But it also seems that many people would not know how to help a friend who was experiencing mental health problems, with 42% admitting they don’t feel they know enough about mental health problems to talk to a friend going through one, and one in five saying they wouldn’t know what to say. Furthermore, 21% of people feel that talking openly about it might make their friend’s situation worse.
This is despite 62% of British adults knowing someone who has experienced a mental health problem.
These findings are released as Time to Change launches its latest campaign, called It’s time to talk. It’s time to change, to encourage the nation to start a conversation around mental health. It aims to remove the awkwardness around mental health by focusing on small steps people can take to support someone experiencing a mental health problem.
The campaign is inspired by stories of real people who have been there for someone experiencing a mental illness. An advert featuring these ‘everyday heroes’ will air on TV throughout January and highlight the importance of staying in contact and being supportive when friends and family members experience a mental health problem.
“These findings show that despite many people knowing someone with a mental health problem, they still don’t feel equipped with enough knowledge to be a supportive friend,” said Sue Baker, director of Time to Change. “The misconceptions that still surround those of us with mental health problems make people worry about offending or embarrassing someone, or saying or doing the wrong thing. So people avoid seeing their friends or speaking to them, when in fact these are the very things that can be helpful.
“You don’t have to be an expert to start a conversation about mental health. Being a supportive friend can include small gestures like sending a quick text or email, or an invitation to meet up. It’s time we encouraged people to talk more openly and for mental health to stop being a part of life people are too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about.”
For more information go to: www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health
Picture posed by models