January 4, 2010

Mental health has been under the spotlight for many reasons in recent weeks and months.

The tragic death of Robert Enke in November woke people up to the harsh reality of stigma and the ultimate consequences it can have. I hope that the outpouring of grief and support will now translate into a greater understanding of mental health issues. Something that the Governor of Lower Saxony said at the memorial event in the Hanover stadium caught my eye in particular, as it echoes my beliefs:

“We don't need flawless robots. We need human beings with rough edges."

I hope that we're now moving towards a society that's more accepting of this, it was heartening to see so many sports people speaking out on the BBC's Inside Sport documentary a few weeks later. I hope that this will go a long way towards empowering others to speak out about their own experiences.

Mental health has also had a high policy priority, with the launch of the New Horizons strategy and a range of government reports on mental health, wellbeing and employment.

It's been encouraging to see that New Horizons is a cross-governmental responsibility, with an underlying ethos of mental health and wellbeing as everybody's business. The strategy reflects what we've been saying from the start: that mental health is a mainstream issue that affects all areas of life. It's crucial that this is now embedded into national government policy.

Our challenge, and that of New Horizons, is to ensure that sectors beyond mental health and social care feel shared ownership of the vision to end inequality and improve the nation's wellbeing.

In the last few months, we've brought this idea to life - in our work with employers and employees through Time to Challenge and working with NHS Employers on an anti-stigma campaign targeted at the NHS Workforce.

Together, let's make 2010 a watershed year for public attitudes.

Sue Baker
Director, Time to Change

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