Time to Change started in October 2007. Since then, we have reached millions of people across England through our campaign and have begun to improve public attitudes towards people with mental health problems. In fact, there has been an 8.3% improvement in public attitudes during this time. Here’s a summary of how things have changed since we began.
Improving public attitudes and intended behaviour
We commission an annual survey which asks a representative sample of the English population questions about their knowledge, attitudes and intended behaviour towards people with mental health problems. Since the very start of the campaign in 2007 public attitudes have improved by 8.3%. In the most recent survey, conducted at the end of 2014 with 1736 people, public attitudes had improved by 6% against a 5% target - that's more than two and a half million people with improved attitudes since the second phase of the campaign began in 2011. We also saw a record number of people saying they would be willing to live, work and continue a relationship with someone who has experience of a mental health problem.
Another study by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurology, King's College London in June 2013 looked at data on public attitudes from 2003-2013 and found that there was a "step change” increase in positive attitudes in some key areas after the campaign launched. Although attitudes may have been at risk of deterioration during times of economic hardship, they continued to improve during the recession in England and the authors suggest this is likely to be due to Time to Change.
Changing behaviour and reducing discrimination
We measure levels of discrimination by asking 1,000 people who have a diagnosed mental illness and have recently been in contact with secondary mental health services, about the discrimination they face in 21 different areas of their lives. The areas of life we ask about range from family, friends and social life (which Time to Change is directly targeting) to areas affected by the wider policy context such as housing, benefits and the police.
In 2008 when our first survey was carried out, 91% of people reported discrimination in at least one area of life. Though this decreased by 3% between 2008 and 2011, it increased again to 91% between 2011 and 2012.
There was also a significant 11.5% decrease in the average levels of discrimination reported between 2008 and 2011. This was the first time internationally that there was evidence that it is possible to change behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
However, between 2011 and 2012 the data showed that discrimination increased among the survey sample. Some of the gains between 2008-2011 were lost and the overall decrease in average levels of discrimination since 2008 is now 5.5%. We will continue to analyse the data annually.
The link between our campaign and improved attitudes and behaviour
According to evaluation of Time to Change by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurology, King’s College London, there is a clear and consistent link between awareness of the Time to Change campaign and having more positive attitudes. People who had seen the campaign are more likely to have better knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems than those who have not.
Starting conversations about mental health
The public attitudes survey has shown a significant increase in the number of adults who now say they know someone with a mental health problem – from 58% in 2009 to 65% in 2014. This suggests greater levels of openness about mental health in the population as a whole and should in turn lead to further improved attitudes as ‘social contact’, or knowing someone who is open about having a mental health problem has a clear and positive impact on public attitudes and behaviour.
Several papers about the evaluation of Time to Change have been published by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurology, King’s College London in peer reviewed journals.
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