Cash booster for mental health anti-discrimination campaign


A campaign to tackle the stigma around mental health has been given a £20 million boost.

The Time To Change initiative, run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, works with schools, employers and local communities to reduce discrimination against people with mental health problems and raise awareness of conditions.

The campaign has been supported by £30 million so far but now the Department of Health, Comic Relief and Big Lottery Fund have pledged a further £20 million.

The charities say that as a result of the campaign, the proportion of people reporting discrimination as a result of mental health issues has dropped from 42% to 28%.

More than 800 schools have discussed mental health in lessons and assemblies, and almost 400 employers are implementing plans for improving mental health in the workplace, they said.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt 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 studies 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."

Over the next five years, local Time To Change hubs will be created to lead anti-stigma campaigns in local communities, and hundreds more organisations will be urged to take part in projects.

The news comes after figures from NHS Digital on Thursday showed a jump in the number of women aged 16-24 experiencing mental health problems.

More than a quarter (26%) of young women aged 16-24 are suffering worrying symptoms - more than three times the rate for men the same age (9%). 

Around a quarter of young women have also self-harmed - most commonly cutting themselves - compared to just 10% of men the same age. 

In 1993, young women were twice as likely as young men to exhibit common mental health disorder symptoms (CMD), but they are now three times more likely to experience them. 

CMD symptoms include irritability, worrying, depression, anxiety, feelings of panic, compulsion and trouble sleeping.

Overall, across all age groups in England, one adult in six has a CMD - about one woman in five and one man in eight. 

A fifth of adults (20.6%) reported that they had thought of taking their own life at some point, and this was more common in women (22.4%) than men (18.7%). 

Jo Loughran, interim director of Time To Change, said: "We know that the attitudes of others stop the one in four 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."