Talking about mental health has been vital in breaking down the stigma surrounding it.
Time to Change has reached millions of people across England and contributed to improving the way we all think and act about mental health and mental health problems since it started in 2007.
In annual public attitudes surveys, record numbers of people said they would be willing to live, work or continue a relationship with someone who has a mental health problem. And levels of mental health discrimination moved significantly in the right direction, with research showing fewer people reporting it in their lives.
By setting real-life stories at the heart of every campaign, we have inspired adults and young people to start their conversations about mental health. Public attitude surveys have 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 among the population as a whole.
What we’re doing next
Despite the progress we’ve made we know that many people still don’t consider mental health relevant to them. They don’t believe mental health problems are likely to affect them or people they know. They also don’t see how their attitudes and behaviours can influence others’ experiences of mental health problems.
That’s why over the next five years we’re focusing our efforts on reaching and engaging these audiences, in particular, men. Across the population as a whole, men’s attitudes have shifted significantly slower than women’s. Social and cultural barriers prevent men in particular from opening up to the topic of mental health.
That’s why we plan to do more work with employers of male dominated workforces, find and support more male champions, and undertake campaigns targeted at men, like our new In Your Corner campaign.
Our strategy is based on a major review we undertook in 2015 to better understand people’s attitudes and behaviours and the impact we’ve had so far. This included an analysis of existing research as well as nearly 40 focus groups involving people from a range of backgrounds and experiences.
As well as men we’ve also identified a need for us to focus work on supporting young people more. Our research has shown us that with young people, stigma often presents as judgement. We need them to understand that mental health problems can affect everyone, and being there for a friend can make a huge difference. So we’ll be running specific projects to address this.