A new study published today (Wednesday 11 June) in The Lancet Psychiatry journal suggests that Time to Change, England’s mental health anti-stigma programme run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is having a positive effect on public attitudes and that stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health might be more prevalent without the campaign.

The research, led by a team at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, investigates 10 year trends in public attitudes in England before and during Time to Change, which ran its first public-facing national campaign in 2009. The longitudinal data from 2003 to 2013 shows 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 the Time to Change campaign.

Changes in public attitude trends were assessed in three ways:

  • The examination of long-term trends from 2003 until 2013 (six years before the start of the first Time to Change mass marketing campaign and four years into it)
  • An investigation assessing whether the time trend changed significantly after the launch of the campaign.
  • An examination of regional data to assess whether there is a “dose-effect” relationship between campaign awareness (of Time to Change activity) and mental-health-related knowledge, attitudes and intended behaviour.

Around 1700 respondents were surveyed each year (2003-2013) and attitudes were evaluated in two areas ‘prejudice and exclusion’ and ‘tolerance and support for community care’. Under both headings people were asked to agree or disagree with statements such as ‘one of the main causes of mental illness is a lack of self-discipline and willpower’ (prejudice and exclusion) and ‘no-one has the right to exclude people with mental illness from their neighbourhood’ (tolerance and support for community care).  

Findings suggest a significant improvement in attitudes related to prejudice and exclusion after the launch of Time to Change, but only slight non-significant changes relating to tolerance and support for community care. In both areas, being female and from a higher socio-economic group were characteristics associated with more positive attitudes.

Regional analysis, carried out between 2009 to 2013, showed that the regions of England in which there were greater levels of awareness of the campaign and exposure to local Time to Change activity, had greater improvements in attitudes and knowledge, but not intended behaviour.  

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “This is really encouraging further evidence of positive changes in attitudes in England. It is always difficult to estimate where we might have been without the influence of Time to Change and all of our campaign supporters, but this data suggests that we would not have seen these levels of change if the campaign had not been active with social marketing and local events and activity.

“Of course there is a huge amount of work to do until we can confidently say that no one has to face stigma and discrimination because of a mental health problem in any community and in any walk of life.”

Dr Sara Lacko-Evans, lead author of the study from King’s, said: “Attitudes towards mental health have been improving very slowly for the past decade. Our study shows that the Time to Change campaign has provided a significant boost to this upwards trend with attitudes improving more than we would have otherwise expected. Unlike other countries in Europe, where attitudes have worsened following the recession, it's extremely encouraging to see that attitudes in the UK are continually improving, no doubt in part due to the Time to Change campaign."

To read a full version of the report please visit The Lancet Psychiatry website.


For more information please contact Hayley Richardson-Roberts, Communications Manager at Time to Change on 0208 2152 358/07789 721 966.

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, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

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 and £3.6 million from the Big Lottery Fund. 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

Big Lottery Fund

Big Lottery Fund supported the first phase of Time to Change with funding of over £20million, and in 2013 awarded the programme a further £3.6m from its Well-being programme to build on its success and work with targeted communities. Big Lottery Fund also supported the campaign’s roll out across Wales.

The largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding,  Big Lottery Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has awarded close to £6bn to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since 2004. For full details of the Big Lottery Fund's work visit: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk