Mental health anti-stigma campaign Time to Change has secured £20 million funding from several investors, which will allow it to continue its work for the next 5 years.
Time to Change, which is run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, secured the investment from the Department of Health, Comic Relief and Big Lottery Fund.
Since the campaign began in 2008, 3.4 million people’s attitudes have improved towards mental health and there’s been a 5.6% increase in the number of people who experience a mental health problem reporting no discrimination in any area of their life. More people than ever before feel able to speak out about their experiences and in doing so are helping everyone to open up to mental health. Furthermore, more than 800 schools have woven mental health into lessons and assemblies, and nearly 400 employers are implementing plans for improving mental health in their workforce.
However, misunderstanding and stigma about mental illness is still rife, notably men and lower socio-economic groups. Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 45. Meanwhile among young people, self-harm and eating disorders are at an all-time peak.
Over the next 5 years, Time to Change will deliver harder-hitting campaigns to reach these audiences who have not yet engaged to improve their attitudes and encourage them to be open to mental health. Work to target young people and their parents will also continue, as well as activity in schools. People who experience mental health problems will be supported to challenge stigma and discrimination in their communities and local Time to Change Hubs will be established with Health and Wellbeing Boards, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations across the country to develop local-led anti-stigma campaigns. Hundreds more organisations will also be supported to implement plans to transform their policies and practices where mental health is concerned and conversations are encouraged.
Jo Loughran, interim director of Time to Change, said: “We know that the attitudes of others stop the 1 in 4 of us who experience a mental health problem from seeking the help and support we need. Since Time to Change began we’ve made real progress in transforming public attitudes and empowering thousands of people to tackle discrimination but we’ve always said that this is the work of a generation and there’s still more work to be done. Too many people are left feeling worthless and ashamed because of their mental health problem and with this continued investment our growing movement of individuals, communities, schools and organisations can put an end to this.”
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Tackling the stigma associated with mental health problems is essential if we are to break down barriers and encourage people to seek help before they reach crisis point. Time to Change is already making a difference, but with recent stats showing that just 50% of people seek help following a suicide attempt – it’s clear that we still have major work to do.
“This funding will help create a social movement of people of all ages who will tackle mental health stigma in their areas. It’s time for us all to talk and time to change attitudes to mental ill health.”
Gilly Green head of UK grants at Comic Relief said: “We are proud to have supported the significant reduction in stigma and discrimination against people living with poor mental health led by the Time to Change Campaign however we know there is still much to be done. By continuing to support this important work, encouraging people to speak out, seek help and raise awareness of mental health issues we hope that even more people will be accepted for who they are and stop experiencing discrimination at work, school and in everyday life.”
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England chair, said: “A crucial aspect to this investment is that people with mental health issues will be using their own experiences to challenge negative perceptions and change public attitudes.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, expressed his delight at the funding and thanked the three organisations for their continuing support. “Time to Change has led to significant change in public attitudes towards mental health over the last few years, but it’s clear we still have a mountain to climb. We look forward to continuing the campaign and building a movement that changes how we all think and act about mental health.”
Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, concluded: “This is such good news and will help us improve the lives of so many more people affected by mental illness, by continuing to tackle the stigma that so many face day-in day-out. It is also recognition of the great strides that Time to Change has made so far, and we look forward to building on this successful work for years to come, so that people with mental health problems can lead a life free of stigma, now and in the future.”