Time to Change has changed the attitudes of millions towards mental health

Nikki first experienced depression at the age of 13 but felt she couldn’t speak to anyone about it after seeing the way other people with mental health problems were treated. After attending a Time to Change event she began volunteering and started sharing her experiences, and grew in confidence. She credits her involvement in this anti-stigma work in helping her to pursue her studies and find employment. She said: “For 10 years I kept my mental health problems to myself. But now, thanks to organisations like Time to Change, conversations can and are taking place.”

Time to Change was set up in 2007 by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness in response to people reporting that the attitudes and behaviours of others could be as difficult to deal with as the mental health problem itself.

Over the last decade Time to Change’s social movement of thousands of adult and young champions with mental health problems, 700 employers, 2,000 secondary schools and thousands of community groups has contributed to a significant decrease in mental health discrimination in England, a “sea change” in public attitudes, and more public confidence disclosing mental health issues to GPs, families and employers:

  • Public attitudes have improved by 9.6%. And for the first time positive intended behaviour has overtaken attitudes with 11% more people saying they’d be willing to live next to, work with, and have a relationship with someone with a mental health problem.*
  • People with severe and enduring mental health problems are reporting significantly less discrimination with the most recent figures showing that average levels have dropped from 42% to 28%, with an 11% reduction when it comes to finding a job, a 10% reduction when dating and 7% reduction from family.**
  • Research published this September also shows that people who are aware of the Time to Change campaign are more likely to feel comfortable to disclose their mental health problems to family, friends, employers, and their GP.***

Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, as the charity partners, funders Comic Relief, the Big Lottery Fund and the Department of Health, along with Time to Change supporters will be marking this decade of change at an evening reception at Admiralty House, London, on 9 October.

But the job is far from done - too many people are still made to feel isolated and ashamed because of their mental health problem. That’s why in February Time to Change launched its new five year ‘In Your Corner’ campaign aimed at encouraging men and young people to be more open and supportive of the one in four of us who will experience a mental health problem in any given year.

Our research shows a persistent gap between the attitudes of men and women, with men consistently showing less favourable attitudes. And in the case of young people, we have found that whilst awareness of mental health issues is improving, understanding is still poor in the 11-18 age group.

Time to Change Director Sue Baker said: “As a society we’ve made huge improvements in the way we think and act about mental health problems. The fact that celebrities, journalists, sportspeople, employers, MPs and now some members of the Royal Family feel able to speak about issues that only 10 years ago were still very much taboo demonstrates this big shift in in public attitudes and behaviour.  But there is still so much more to do to, like reach out to those people who don’t think mental health is at all relevant to their lives and challenge discrimination that still impacts on so many people’s lives.  We do believe that this is the generation for change.”

Nikki’s experience is just one example of the thousands of people whose lives have been transformed for the better thanks to Time to Change.

She recalled: “I watched as people I knew were branded ‘nutters’ and ‘freaks’ all because they were unwell and dealing with something they couldn’t control, something I knew about all too well. But I couldn’t say anything to anyone and I didn’t; for 10 years I kept it to myself. It wasn’t until I attended a Time to Change event in 2011 that I realised I wasn’t alone in my struggles.”

She added: “There are still far too many people who are afraid to tell someone that they have a problem, far too many people suffering in silence because they're ashamed or scared or don’t even understand what is wrong. But now, thanks to organisations like Time to Change, such conversations can and are taking place.”

Time to Change is now the most evidence-based mental health anti-stigma programme in the world and as such has helped other countries design and deliver similar campaigns in Canada, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Wales and Northern Ireland. Time to Change has also worked mutually with other long established campaigns in New Zealand, Australia and Scotland by setting up the Global Anti-Stigma Alliance to share learning of anti-stigma campaigns.

- Ends -


* National Attitudes to Mental Illness Survey, published May 2017

** Corker E, Hamilton S, Robinson E, Cotney J, Pinfold V, Rose D, Thornicroft G & Henderson C. Viewpoint survey of mental health service users’ experiences of discrimination in England 2008-14 Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 134 (Suppl. 446): 14-22, 2016.

*** Henderson C, Robinson E, Evans-Lacko S, & Thornicroft G. Relationships between anti-stigma programme awareness, disclosure comfort and intended help-seeking regarding a mental health problem. British Journal of Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.195867, published online 21 September 2017.

Time to Change

Time to Change is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems. We are funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Our campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and thousands more organisations have joined us to make change happen.

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

Key campaign milestones:

2007: Over 2,000 people respond to our Stigma Shout Survey - 9 in 10 people with a mental health problem tell us they have experienced discrimination.

2008: Time to Change roadshows launch across England, putting into practice our social contact programme which shows that one of the best ways to break down barriers is to bring together people with personal experience of mental health problems to talk to those who haven’t.

2009: Our first major TV advertising campaign goes live, with the message that the prejudice around mental health problems can be too much to bear.

2010: Dorset Healthcare Trust becomes the first organisation to sign our Employer Pledge, encouraging organisations to reduce stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

2011: Research shows mental health problems are still taboo in the south Asian communities so we launch a dedicated campaign with community leaders and groups in Harrow, London.

2012: We launch our children’s and young people’s programme and start working with schools and young champions.

2013: Our 300 Voices pilot launches to improve the experiences of young African and Caribbean men who have contact with mental health or police workers.

2014: The first ever Time To Talk Day is held, generating more than a million conversations about mental health.

2015: Our mental health professionals pilot project begins in Gloucester and the North East after 1 in 3 people report stigma and discrimination within mental health services.

2016: Intellectual Property Office becomes the 500th organisation to sign our Employer Pledge, joining the likes of Channel 4, British Gas, BT, Bank of England, e:on, Lloyds Bank.

2017: We launch Time to Change regional hubs to develop sustainable grass roots campaigns led by local organisations and champions. The first four go live in Cumbria, West Sussex, Suffolk and Leeds.