The overwhelming majority of people with mental health problems report being misunderstood by family members, shunned and ignored by friends, work colleagues and health professionals, called names and much worse by neighbours.
Stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking help: this can delay treatment and impair recovery. It isolates people, excluding them from day-to-day activities and making it hard to build new relationships or sustain current ones. It can stop people getting or keeping jobs.
Experiencing a mental health problem is hard enough, without having to deal with the shame and isolation that often comes with it.
“I told my brother I was suffering from severe depression and was on antidepressants. He just turned round and said “Aww diddums. Pull yourself together and get on with it.” That made me feel even more depressed. I wish I'd never told him.”
Discrimination takes different forms
Someone with a mental health problem might experience discrimination in a number of different ways:
- Losing contact with loved ones, because their friends or family don’t want to ‘deal’ with them
- Being refused work, having their status or role changed at work, or losing their job, because of their mental health problem
- Having their illness dismissed or minimised, for example being told to "man up" or “get over it.”
- Being called offensive names because of their mental health problem
- Being over-protected by friends, family or colleagues because of an assumption that they are less capable.
Discrimination can be very obvious, such as hate crimes or online trolling. It can be buried within employer policies or processes, and within laws that disadvantage people with mental health problems. It can take the form of subtle actions or comments that harm someone over time. It can be a small act that makes the person feel more isolated and ashamed, or it can be something that has a monumental negative impact on their life.
“I feel that sometimes friends do not have a strong enough understanding of mental health, and they assume they know what will make me anxious. For instance, I've had a friend who would tell me “I'm too shy”, “too anxious” or “you'll have a panic attack”, if I intend on doing something that would be considered to be out of my comfort zone.”
Our campaign’s objectives
Time to Change exists to end the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems.
Specifically, we are:
- Improving public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
- Reducing the amount of discrimination that people with mental health problems report in their personal relationships, their social lives and at work.
- Making sure even more people with mental health problems can take action to challenge stigma and discrimination in their communities, in workplaces, in schools and online.
- Creating a sustainable campaign that will continue long into the future.