Responding to the release of the ONS Report 'Attitudes to Mental Illness 2010' (*1) yesterday Time to Change, England's national anti-discrimination campaign, says the statistics show that public attitudes are slowly improving in some key areas but that securing major change needs a long-term approach.

Between 2009 and 2010 there has been some significant improvement to some of the attitudinal statements that related to the messages of the first year of the Time to Change social marketing campaign:

  • A rise from 13% to 16% in the number of people being able to correctly state the proportion of people who would have a mental health problem at some point in their lives (1 in 4).
  • A rise from 79% to 84% with the agreement that 'no-one has the right to exclude people with mental illness from their neighbourhood'
  • A rise from 82% to 85% in the number of people who said they would be willing to continue a relationship with a friend who developed a mental health problem

In particular two of the three attitudinal statements that Time to Change is being evaluated against have improved since 1994 (*2):

Virtually anyone can become mentally ill increased from 91% to 93%
People with mental illness should not be given any responsibility - agreement with this statement has declined from 17% to 12%

However agreement with the statement 'People with mental illness are far less of a danger than most people suppose' has remained consistent over this period remaining at 59% in 2010.

Director of Time to Change, Sue Baker said: “This research shows that we can affect public attitudes in some areas and overall the results from last year show encouraging signs of the beginnings of change. However it also highlights that securing major social change needs a long term and sustained approach."

Further analysis of the TNS data, to establish the full extent of changes over the last twelve months, will be published by Time to Change in due course.

Time to Change is England's most ambitious programme to end the discrimination faced by people with mental health problems, and improve the nation's wellbeing. The leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink are running the programme, funded with £16m from the Big Lottery Fund and £4m from Comic Relief, and evaluated by the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London.