timetochangeThousands of mental health professionals are changing the way they work as a result of a project that aimed to reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people when using mental health services. 

Time to Change, the mental health anti-stigma campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, launched the project in response to research showing that 1 in 3 people still report stigma and discrimination within mental health services.

The work has been delivered over the past 18 months. As part of this, mental health professionals participated in workshops with staff, framed around open discussion and bringing together staff and people who use their services. The project also provided training materials to open up the conversation about mental health stigma within services, which is available to all trusts in the UK. 

An independent evaluation of the project found that as a result of the campaign, 46% of mental health professionals who took part in trust workshops are taking steps to change their practice.

The report also found that half felt that the materials they had seen helped them to “better understand some of the issues faced by people with mental health problem. Meanwhile, 71% of those interviewed reported that they were likely to make a change to their personal practice.

There was an 11% jump in people feeling personally able to make a difference to whether mental health service users feel positively about their experience (60% - 71%).

Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness, said: “We know attitudes are gradually improving, and that the 1 in 4 people with a mental health problem are experiencing less discrimination in many areas of life, including from family, at work and in relationships. But one area where we haven’t seen the same level of improvement is, perhaps surprisingly, within mental health services. 

“We took the decision to tackle this head on in 2015 and have since been working closely with mental health professionals and those who use these services to make a change. It’s good to see that as a result of this important piece of work, nearly half of staff who took part are already making changes to the way they work. Everyone should be able to live their life and access the support they need without fear of being judged, and it’s good to see we are edging ever more closely to this.”

The two partner trusts involved were 2gether and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. In, four trusts committed to the activity in advance: Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

To view campaign materials and the training film visit www.time-to-change.org.uk/professionals