Dan Parton writes (11/11/11): Stigma should not be a barrier to success



Stigma is still one of the biggest issues that people withmental health problems face on a day-to-day basis - and it can stopthem achieving their potential in employment and in life. So itswelcome news that anti-stigma campaigning group Time to Change hasreceived the funding it needs to carry on.


The government's recent pledge of £16 million, over the nextfour years, to Time to Change - along with £4 million from ComicRelief - will enable it to continue its work until March 2015.


In the short-term, the next phase of the campaign will includetesting new approaches to tackling mental health stigma anddiscrimination among children and young people, and some specificwork with the African Caribbean community.


I've said before in editorials for the print version of MentalHealth Today that the only way to effectively tackle mental healthstigma is through a sustained campaign, and this money will enableTime to Change to build on the work it has done in the past fewyears, and plan for longer-term initiatives.


It is certainly needed: while mental health stigma is graduallydiminishing - down 4% according to Time to Change - it can still bea significant problem.


However, changing public attitudes to mental health is along-term, multi-generational goal and campaigning needs to betargeted towards groups such as employers and children - among manyothers - to ensure that progress continues.


After all, we need to remember that some of the greatestBritons, including Sir Winston Churchill and Florence Nightingale,had mental health problems and it didn't stop them achieving allthat they did. Indeed, some say that grappling with their mentalhealth issues helped them to attain greatness.


But would they have achieved what they did if they had been openabout their mental health problems at the time? Arguably not,because of the prejudice they would have encountered.


While the stigmatisation of mental health problems is by nomeans as bad today as it was in Nightingale's or Churchill's times,we still need more work to address it, to ensure that people withmental health problems are not subject to prejudice because, justlike anyone else, they are capable of so much, including, from timeto time, true greatness.