In December we asked supporters and the general public to take our state of stigma survey and one month later we have the results from nearly 6,000 people. The survey has revealed that nearly 60% of people with a mental health problem are waiting over a year to tell the people closest to them about it. The data, which shows that stigma is still preventing people from getting support from their family and friends when they need it the most, is being released today on Time to Talk Day, when we are asking the nation to break the silence surrounding mental health problems and take 5 minutes to have a conversation about mental health.

Encouragingly, the survey found that when people did open up, 73% said that once they finally did tell family and friends, they were the most supportive of all groups including employers, colleagues, teachers, GPs/doctors and online networks.

When asked about the impact that stigma and discrimination has on their life, 64% of people said it was as bad as or worse than the mental health problem itself. However, when asked about whether or not things had improved since getting involved with Time to Change, the picture becomes more positive with 66% saying they became more confident to tell their friends and family about their mental health problem, and 32% saying they were more confident in seeking help.​

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “It’s shocking to see that so many people are still waiting over a year to talk to their nearest and dearest – it’s hard to imagine this happening with other health issues. We know that talking openly about mental health is a vital first step towards breaking down stigma and discrimination, so we are asking people to take 5 minutes on the 5th February to do just that. With major employers, politicians, universities, schools and tens of thousands of individuals taking part, we’ve come a long way towards breaking the silence but this new data shows there is still much further to go until talking about mental health is an ordinary and unremarkable thing to do.”

Watch a piece with Beverley Callard on BBC Breakfast talking about mental health.