New research reveals that, despite a general improvement in public attitudes, stigma and misunderstanding remain rife around less common mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorders. Research commissioned by the mental health anti-stigma campaign, Time to Change, shows:

  • 27% of people with a less common mental health problem feel that discrimination against them has increased in the last ten years[1].
  • 84% of people with experience of a mental health problem don’t believe perceptions of less common conditions have improved in the last 10 years[2].
  • Public knowledge of depression is good; 84% of people said they at least knew a little bit about the condition. However, the number of people saying they have never heard of a condition, or don’t know anything about it, increases dramatically for less common mental health problems to 50% for borderline personality disorder, 49% for psychosis and 35% for schizophrenia[3].

The statistics come at a time when ‘awareness’ is at an all-time high. In fact, attitudes towards mental health problems have improved among 5.4 million people in the last twelve years[4]. However, Time to Change says these latest figures highlight how common misconceptions and a lack of public knowledge risk people with certain diagnoses and symptoms being ‘left behind’.

The charity campaign warns that this is a serious issue, as mental health stigma, or fear of mental health stigma, can be life limiting for those affected. The research shows that 74% of people with experience of a less common mental health problem said fear of stigma and discrimination stops them from doing the things they want to do[5].To tackle the gap in understanding, Time to Change is launching See the Bigger Picture. The campaign includes a short film featuring three people who live with less common mental health problems – schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder – all sharing common misconceptions about their condition. As the video progresses, each contributor goes on to reveal what it’s really like to experience their mental health problem, allowing the viewer to see the bigger picture.

Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change, the mental health anti-stigma campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness said “Mental health is arguably being spoken about more than ever before and that is an overwhelmingly positive thing. However, we need to ensure that this shift in attitudes occurs across the board and benefits people with a wide range of diagnoses.

“The reality of living with conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder remains largely misunderstood. We’re calling on people to see the bigger picture - to listen to people’s experiences and understand what it’s like to live with a mental health problem.”

Billie Dee Gianfrancesco has a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder “Initially when I was diagnosed I was thrilled. I identified with the symptoms and once I had the diagnosis, I could finally get help. But then I googled it and it was horrible to see how people talk about people with personality disorders. I read things around how to get out of a relationship with someone with a personality disorder, how toxic we are, how to spot and get rid of us. It made me feel too ashamed to tell anyone.”

Antonio Ferriera, who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, said “There’s a limitation on who you can tell that you have schizophrenia- especially being from the BAME community. Not everyone understands schizophrenia or thinks it’s a real thing. Some people might think it means having a split personality, but it’s not like that.

“I heard voices as a result of schizophrenia. I tried to challenge them, denying what they were telling me, but they were too overpowering. When you hear voices, it makes you feel bad about yourself- I was upset with myself, not other people.”

For more information and to view the campaign film, please visit:www.time-to-change.org.uk/biggerpicture


[1] YouGov research carried out in July 2019. 4,007 people who identified as having lived experience of mental health problems, along with 1,013 people who provided care to someone with lived experience of a mental health problem, were surveyed
[2] YouGov research carried out in July 2019. 4,007 people who identified as having lived experience of mental health problems, along with 1,013 people who provided care to someone with lived experience of a mental health problem, were surveyed
[3] Charity Awareness Monitor, Jan 20, nfpSynergy | Base: 1,000 adults 16+, Britain
[4] https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/home/about-us/our-impact
[5] YouGov research carried out in July 2019. 4,007 people who identified as having lived experience of mental health problems, along with 1,013 people who provided care to someone with lived experience of a mental