A new survey by the mental health anti-stigma campaign Time to Change reveals 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 on Time to Talk Day (Thursday 5 February), when the nation is encouraged to break the silence surrounding mental health problems.

The survey, which is the biggest of its kind in England with responses from nearly 6,000 people who have direct experience of a mental health problem, also found that more encouragingly, 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.

Time to Change, which is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, has launched the new data as part of Time to Talk Day when people are being encouraged to take 5 minutes on the 5th to have a conversation and bring the topic of mental health out from the shadows. One in four people experience mental health problems and talking about the issue helps to break down the stigma and discrimination that many face as a result – making it easier for people to access the support of those around them much earlier.

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.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 40% currently experience stigma and discrimination either weekly or monthly.
  • 66% said that stigma and discrimination had stopped them from socialising.
  • 39% said it had stopped them from having a relationship.
  • 44% said they were most worried about telling family or friends about their mental health problem compared to 6% who said they were most worried about telling their GP/doctor.

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.

Hundreds of organisations including Barclays, HSBC, Air France & KLM, BT, Post Office, Devon & Cornwall Police and Network Rail, and individuals, have signed up to take part in Time to Talk Day by organising activities in local communities and in their workplaces. Celebrities will also be supporting the day by tweeting selfies in specially designed t-shirts by British contemporary artist Stuart Semple.

Coincidentally, the findings from the survey are currently being played out on TV’s longest running soap as Coronation Street’s Steve McDonald has been finding it hard to come to terms with his diagnosis of clinical depression and has been hiding it from family and friends.

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.”.

For information and to get involved in Time to Talk Day visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday


For more information please contact Gavin Kimble, Senior Media Officer at Time to Change at g.kimble@time-to-change.org.uk or call 0208 2152 341/07584 003 703. 

Notes to Editors

Join in the conversation online using the hashtag #TimetoTalk

The Time to Change survey was conducted online using Survey Monkey between 12 December 2014 and 12 January 2015 and was completed by a total of 5,843 people in the UK with experience of a mental health problem.

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.

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

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