New evaluation findings from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King's College London reveal that England's most ambitious anti-stigma programme, Time to Change, is having a positive effect on reducing discrimination towards people with mental health problems.

The overall level of discrimination reported by people who experience a mental health problem has dropped by four percent (1) in the last 12 months. The levels of discrimination people face when searching for a job dropped by 9 percent and there is a six percent reduction in the number of people who report losing their job due to a mental health problem.

Time to Change has been actively campaigning for 18 months in order to tackle the stigma existing within people's knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards mental health. The programme has a target to achieve a five percent positive shift in attitudes towards mental health problems and a five percent reduction in discrimination levels by 2012.

The new findings back up recent research from the Department of Health which indicates that general attitudes towards people with a mental health problem are slowly beginning to improve in England.

Findings from Attitudes to Mental Illness 2010 (2) show a 2.2 percent improvement in public attitudes from 2008 to 2010, with a significant 1.3% improvement in attitudes from 2009 to 2010, following the start of the Time to Change campaign.

In addition, further findings from the IoP reveal that the programme's Time to Get Moving strand (3), which is a series of fun events where the general public get to meet people with mental health problems, is helping to challenge stereotypes and break down stigma. A reported 35 percent of participants left with a more positive impression of people with a mental health problem after attending a Get Moving event and three-quarters of people speaking about their experience of the event to others.

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “We have seen some positive improvements over the last year in the acceptance and understanding that people have towards mental health issues. Our challenge is to continue with our work in order to reduce the incidents of discrimination that are still so widely reported by people with mental health problems. Nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems have been affected by stigma and discrimination. Just taking small actions to change the way we respond to the one in four of us who will experience a mental health problem would make a huge difference."

Professor Graham Thornicroft, who heads the Time to Change evaluation team adds: “These findings are very encouraging and after only one year there is clear evidence of the positive achievements of Time to Change. This raises the intriguing possibility that we may be approaching a tipping point at which more and more people feel able to speak about their own experience of mental ill health, and that this will then lead to a step change in public acceptance and social inclusion."

Time to Change was launched in January 2009 with a national advertising campaign fronted by Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax and Alastair Campbell. This year, the campaign is fronted by Frank Bruno and Trisha Goddard and includes the cinema release of 'Schizo: the Movie', a spoof movie trailer, which shows that people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia can live full lives with the support of their friends and family.

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.

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

Ends
Notes to Editors:

For interview or image requests please contact Jenny Tudor in the Time to Change Press Office on 0208 2152 358/ 07789 721 966 j.tudor@time-to-change.org.uk

1. All findings are from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London unless otherwise stated.

2. Attitudes to mental illness 2010, Department of Health

3. Time to Get Moving is a week of activity events in October (9 to 17 October 2010), organised by individuals and organisations all over England, which bring people together to get active and challenge stigma and discrimination.

4. 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.

Pledge to help end mental health prejudice at www.time-to-change.org.uk
5. The Big Lottery Fund's support for Time to Change comes from its £165m Well-being programme, which provides funding to support the development of healthier lifestyles and to improve well-being. The Big Lottery Fund has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by Parliament on 1 December 2006. Full details of the Big Lottery Fund, its programmes and awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

6. 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 to 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 part of Comic Relief's long standing commitment to this issue. For more information go to www.comicrelief.com