Students urged to break a taboo and talk about mental health

In a recent survey by Time to Change, England biggest mental health anti-stigma campaign, as many as 66 per cent (559)  of students say they have a mental health problem despite only 0.3 per cent of students declaring a mental health disability on their application form nationwide.

Time to Change, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is releasing the results of the survey as the University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN) hosts a university mental health and wellbeing awareness day on Wednesday 22 February 2012 at 14 campuses across the country.

Warwick University and the Students Union will also sign a Time to Change pledge, showing their commitment to tackling discrimination around mental health problems within their student population as well as amongst staff and key stakeholders. After the day other universities will also sign the pledge.

Further survey results also showed that 93 per cent  (781) of students said they have felt unusually stressed out while at university with 76 per cent  (593) putting the stress down to personal problems on top of their university work. Nearly 50 per cent (380) said the stress came from financial worries.

As well as encouraging students to tackle the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health, the day will raise awareness of the support available for students. Students will also be asked to think about five simple things they can do a day to help their mental health and wellbeing.

Phil Scarffe, Chair of UMHAN said: “The vast majority of students who have mental health difficulties do not declare them at the application stage. They often under estimate the challenges they will face, are unaware of how universities can support them, and usually fear that seeking support may count against them. We are happy to be working with Time to Change to make sure that students feel more comfortable and confident to talk about their problems without fear of stigma or discrimination.”

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “Going to university and moving away from home is a stressful time for all students. Learning how to look after their own mental health and wellbeing at this critical time in their life is vital, and a big part of this is being able to

speak openly to others about how they are feeling in order to get support and understanding instead of a barrage of stigma which just makes matters worse.”

“Previous research tells us that half of all lifetime mental disorders start by the mid-teens and three quarters by the mid 20s. Our research shows that mental health problems are more common among students than the official figures suggest. With UMHAN’s support and commitment to tackle mental health stigma we hope we can help students feel more able to be open about their mental health, and make this new chapter in students’ lives as easy and enjoyable as possible.”

UMHAN joins the wide movement of organisations that have signed up to the Time to Change Pledge, including the FA, the Premier League, Universities, BT, Eon, NHS Trusts, Primary Care Trusts, local authorities, Transport for London, Citizen’s Advice, and police forces.

Ends

For more information please contact Hayley Richardson, Time to Change Press Office on h.richardson@time-to-change.org.uk 0208 2152 358/ 07789 721 966. Follow Hayley on Google+

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. 

For more information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk

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
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

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