A new training pack has been launched today to help reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people when using mental health services. Time to Change, the mental health anti-stigma campaign, in partnership with NHS England, has worked with mental health professionals and people using services to develop new training materials, which will be available to all mental health Trusts in England.

The initiative is in response to research, which shows that - despite positive changes in attitudes towards people with mental health problems in some areas of life - 1 in 3 people report stigma and discrimination when they use mental health services. 

Time to Change, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, developed the training pack specifically to encourage open dialogue amongst mental health teams about the positive changes that they can make to improve their culture and practice – both in secure and community settings. The pack is available through the Time to Change website and will include a film and supporting materials to be used as part of staff supervisions.

The new training builds on a successful pilot scheme launched in October 2015 by Time to Change in conjunction with the 2gether NHS Foundation Trust and the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW). As part of the pilot sessions mental health professionals are brought together with people who use mental health services to highlight positive examples of where mental health staff have challenged stigma and discrimination with the aim of empowering others to do the same. Some sessions involve mental health professionals who have their own experiences of mental illness and can share their views on both aspects. Early evidence shows the pilot scheme improved the confidence of mental health professionals to explore new or different ways of responding to people with mental health problems.

Time to Change’s work with NHS England and the previous pilot with the 2gether NHS Foundation Trust and the NTW Trust, adopt some of the principles of a dialogue model used in Time to Change’s 300 Voices pilot in Birmingham. The pilot also follows a scoping study and roundtable, commissioned by Time to Change in 2014, which brought together 45 experts from different parts of the mental health and wider health and social care sectors to consider what role staff could have in tackling stigma and discrimination. It was also used to understand the complex nature of the discrimination reported by people using mental health services. 

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said:

“Despite making significant headway in improving general public attitudes towards mental illness, people using mental health services continue to report having experienced discrimination within services and other parts of the NHS. However, we also know that there are some positive examples of delivering care and it’s these that we want to encapsulate and share with other Trusts to show what can be done to improve services and make a big difference to people’s recovery. By partnering with NHS England we are able to ensure that a wider pool of Trusts across the country will be able to make use of the training and ensure that people using services have an improved experience when they visit their healthcare setting.”

Joanne McDonnell, Senior Nurse for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities at NHS England, said:

“It’s really important that everyone working in the NHS creates the most positive experience possible for service users and it’s fantastic that Time to Change is working in partnership with NHS England to spread that message far and wide.

Research from this campaign has shown that even small individual actions we can all make, like keeping eye contact or taking a few extra minutes with someone, can change an interaction and improve the experience and life of someone with a mental health problem. Don’t leave it to others because reducing stigma and improving care is everybody’s responsibility.”  

Dr Sara Munro, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing & Deputy CEO at the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: 

“We very much welcome the development of a training package for staff at the Cumbria Partnership Trust that focuses on attitudes and stigma. The relationships between staff and patients is crucial, not only for patients’ recovery and willingness to ask for help, but also for the wellbeing of staff, many of whom have their own experience of mental health problems, either personally or through friends and family. It really is time to break down the invisible barriers – we all experience a range of emotions, thoughts and feelings that we should feel able to talk about."

Daniel Regan, who has used mental health services and helped to develop the training materials, said:

"My experience with mental health services hasn’t been an easy road, so it is really important to me that my interaction with mental health professionals is a positive one. There are simple and easy things that professionals can do to put me at ease, help me to feel understood and see that we are both working towards a common goal. I believe it’s important for clinicians to understand how to better themselves within their job because the small things really can have a huge impact for someone like me."

To view the new campaign materials and view the film visit our website

For more information please email Ellie Stone, Media Officer at Time to Change or call 020 8215 2389 or 07824 341570.