£20m investment to transform public attitudes around mental health

Time to Change, the campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to change the way everyone thinks and acts about mental health problems, is set to continue thanks to a £20m investment from Department of Health, Comic Relief and Big Lottery Fund.

Since the campaign began in 2008, 3.4 million people’s attitudes have improved towards mental health. Analysis led by Claire Henderson and Professor Graham Thornicroft from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN)  at King's College London showed a 5.6% increase in the number of people who experience a mental health problem reporting no discrimination in any area of their life. More people than ever before feel able to speak out about their experiences and in doing so are helping everyone to open up to mental health. Furthermore, more than 800 schools have woven mental health into lessons and assemblies, and nearly 400 employers are implementing plans for improving mental health in their workforce.

While this progress in improving attitudes, raising awareness and opening up more conversations has been significant, it’s not universal. For some key sections of the wider population misunderstanding about mental illness is still rife, notably men and lower socio-economic groups. Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 45 and, every day, 13 families lose a father, a son, a brother, a partner to suicide. Meanwhile amongst young people, self-harm and eating disorders are at an all-time peak.

Over the next five years, Time to Change will deliver harder hitting campaigns to reach these audiences who have not yet engaged to improve their attitudes and encourage them to be open to mental health. Work to target young people and their parents will also continue, as well as activity in schools. People who experience mental health problems will be supported to challenge stigma and discrimination in their communities and local Time to Change Hubs will be established with Health and Wellbeing Boards, Local Authorities and voluntary sector organisations across the country to develop local-led anti-stigma campaigns. Hundreds more organisations will also be supported to implement plans to transform their policies and practices where mental health is concerned and conversations are encouraged.

Jo Loughran, Interim Director of Time to Change, said:

“We know that the attitudes of others stop the one in four of us who experience a mental health problem from seeking the help and support we need. Since Time to Change began we’ve made real progress in transforming public attitudes and empowering thousands of people to tackle discrimination but we’ve always said that this is the work of a generation and there’s still more work to be done. Too many people are left feeling worthless and ashamed because of their mental health problem and with this continued investment our growing movement of individuals, communities, schools and organisations can put an end to this.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said:

“Tackling the stigma associated with mental health problems is essential if we are to break down barriers and encourage people to seek help before they reach crisis point. Time to Change is already making a difference, but with recent stats showing that just 50 percent of people seek help following a suicide attempt – it’s clear that we still have major work to do.

“This funding will help create a social movement of people of all ages who will tackle mental health stigma in their areas. It’s time for us all to talk and time to change attitudes to mental ill health.”

Gilly Green Head of UK Grants at Comic Relief said: 

“We are proud to have supported the significant reduction in stigma and discrimination against people living with poor mental health led by the Time to Change Campaign however we know there is still much to be done. By continuing to support this important work, encouraging people to speak out, seek help and raise awareness of mental health issues we hope that even more people will be accepted for who they are and stop experiencing discrimination at work, school and in everyday life.”

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said:

“A crucial aspect to this investment is that people with mental health issues will be using their own experiences to challenge negative perceptions and change public attitudes. We are very pleased to be working alongside the Department of Health and Comic Relief on this important and timely national initiative.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind said:

“We are delighted that funding will continue for the Time to Change campaign and thank the Government, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund for their ongoing support. Time to Change has led to significant change in public attitudes towards mental health over the last few years, but it’s clear we still have a mountain to climb. We look forward to continuing the campaign and building a movement that changes how we all think and act about mental health.”

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said:

“This is such good news and will help us improve the lives of so many more people affected by mental illness, by continuing to tackle the stigma that so many face day in day out. It is also recognition of the great strides that Time to Change has made so far, and we look forward to building on this successful work for years to come, so that people with a mental health problems can lead a life free of stigma, now and in the future.”

Alastair Campbell, who has supported Time to Change for many years, said: 

“It is fantastic news that the government, the Lottery Fund and Comic Relief continue to recognise the great strides being made by Time to Change. Only this morning I was singing their praises at a 'diversity festival' for the insurance industry. Improving mental health is not just about money for services, welcome though that is amid the shortages. It is also about changing the way we think and talk about mental health and mental illness especially in the workplace. This welcome new investment will allow Time to Change to build on the improvements we are seeing in public awareness and public attitudes.”

Breakdown of funding

Department of Health: £12.5 million

Comic Relief: £5 million

Big Lottery Fund: £2.5 million (2016-2017, 2017-2018)


Notes to Editor:

For more information please contact Emma Warren, Senior Media Officer at Time to Change at e.warren@time-to-change.org.uk or call 07894 915 689.

** For access to a range of free images to accompany mental health news stories please visit: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/getthepicture. These images have been developed by the anti-stigma campaign Time to Change, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

Time to Change
Time to Change is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems. Our voice is stronger and louder thanks to funding by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Our campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and thousands more organisations have joined us to make change happen.

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

For more on research into people's attitudes towards mental health, Click here.

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.  In 2012 a cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy, Preventing Suicide in England: A cross-Government outcomes strategy to save lives was published, supported by investment of £1.5m into new research. The National Strategy has two aims; to reduce suicide and support people bereaved by suicide.

This year’s annual report is reinvigorating the strategy in 5 key areas:

  • Better and more consistent local planning through implementing local multi-agency suicide prevention plans;
  • Better targeting of high risk groups including men, mental health patients and people in contact with the criminal justice system;
  • Improving data at national and local level;
  • Improving responses to people bereaved by suicide; and
  • Expanding the scope of the National Strategy to address self-harm as an issue in its own right.

Earlier this year, the independent Mental Health Taskforce Five year Forward View for Mental Health made three main recommendations for reducing suicides, which DH welcomes:

  • reducing the national suicide rate by 10% by 2020/21;
  • ensuring all local areas have multi-agency suicide prevention plans in place by 2017 and;
  • improving investigations and learning lessons from all deaths in NHS settings, including suicides and those which occur in out of area placements.

To reduce the stigma faced by people with mental health problems, the Department has been supporting Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, since 2011.

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 funding of Time to Change represents Comic Relief’s largest UK grant and is part of the organisation’s long standing commitment to this issue. Comic Relief also funds the campaigns against mental health stigma and discrimination in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 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, to build on its success and work with targeted communities. Big Lottery Fund also supported the campaign’s roll out across Wales.

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.

It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Every year it invests over £650 million and awards around 12,000 grants across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.