Tragically, a quarter of young people (26%) have said that the stigma attached to their mental illness has made them want to give up on life, according to new statistics released by the mental health anti-stigma programme Time to Change, which is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
Furthermore, 27% of young people with mental health problems under the age of 25 say that the discrimination they face as a result has also made them give up on their life’s ambitions . The shocking survey was commissioned by Time to Change as it launches new anti-stigma work aimed at encouraging young people to help tackle the taboo surrounding mental health problems.
Since the programme began in 2007, Time to Change has already seen significant attitude and behaviour change towards mental health problems among adults. Today the pilot project in the West Midlands, which will work with teenagers to help stamp out the discrimination that is damaging young lives and preventing them from fulfilling their true potential, will be launched at an event in Birmingham.
One in ten children and young people will experience a mental health problem . The new research also highlights that much of the stigma that young people face comes from those who you would expect to turn to first at a time of need, including friends (70%), siblings (35%) and parents (57%) .
Bryony Bratchell, aged 19 from Weymouth, said: “The stigma that I have experienced because of my mental health problem has really affected my childhood in terms of friendships and relationships and in education and more recently at work. When I was first diagnosed at 14, I was automatically told by healthcare professionals to stop going to school because it was too stressful. At the same time my school also refused to allow me to return there once they knew I had a mental health problem. Then once I left I heard nasty rumours that people were spreading about me and even comments to my friends about stopping hanging out with me in case I might kill them. This has made it so hard to keep friends and make new ones. Thankfully I have made new friends through Time to Change as people here really understand me.”
Activities planned for the West Midlands include a social marketing campaign, an education programme co-delivered by young people with a mental illness and their parents, community events in the region, a grants fund for projects that bring young people with and without mental health problems together and engagement with organisations in the region that work with a youth audience.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "For many young people suffering with mental health problems, discrimination is an additional hurdle for them to overcome. No young person should experience isolation or bullying and feel unable to speak up, or have their ambitions thwarted needlessly.
"Tackling taboos and stigma has the potential to make a significant difference to the wellbeing of young people with mental health problems. I applaud Time to Change’s efforts to change attitudes among peers, families and friends, to give youngsters affected a more positive future."
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: "Too often young people with mental health problems are treated differently, and even bullied. This can affect their education and self-esteem with knock-on effects for the rest of their life.
"Half of those with lifetime mental health problems experience symptoms by the age of 14. This is why, if young people are to reach their full potential, they must feel able to access the support they need without fear of discrimination."
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “This is a national tragedy. With one in ten children experiencing mental health problems, the impact of stigma is robbing too many of their hopes for the future. They are left too afraid to turn to their families, friends and teachers, or to get support.
“However we know, from our existing campaign, that by working together we can improve attitudes. With young people as the driving force behind our new campaign, we will be able to bring these issues out from the dark ages.”
For more information please contact Hayley Richardson, Time to Change Senior Media Officer, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0208 2152 358/ 07789 721 966. Follow Hayley on Google+
For the full background to the Time to Change Children and Young People's programme, download our research report (PDF)
Notes to Editors
Time to Change
Time to Change is England's most ambitious programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief.
Department of Health
On 2 February 2011 the Department of Health launched No health without mental health, a cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages which has the twin aims of keeping people well and improving their mental health and, when people are not well, improving their outcomes through high-quality services.
The strategy is based on six shared objectives, developed with partners from across the mental health sector, and focuses on ‘Recovery’ and the reduction of stigma and discrimination as overarching themes.
To help deliver the objective to reduce the stigma faced by people with mental health problems, in 2011 the Department agreed to support Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The Department of Health is providing the campaign with up to £16 million of funding together with a further £4 million from Comic Relief. This funding will help Time to Change continue their work until March 2015.
Comic Relief is committed to supporting people living with mental health problems. The projects Comic Relief funds ensure people with mental health problems get their voices heard in the decisions that affect their lives and get the help they need to recover. Comic Relief also helps people to promote their rights and reduce the stigma and discrimination they face so that they feel more included in society. The £4 million grant to Time to Change is the second time the charity has awarded Time to Change its largest UK grant and is part of Comic Relief's long standing commitment to this issue. For more information go to www.comicrelief.com