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IoP evaluation finds Time to Change having positive effect on reducing mental health stigma and discrimination

09 July 2010

New evaluation findings from the Institute of Psychiatry (IOP) at King’s College London (KCL) 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 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 head towards a tipping point in England.

Findings from Attitudes to Mental Illness 2010 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, 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.

Graham Thornicroft, Professor of Community Psychiatry at the IoP, said: '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.'

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, added: '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.'

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 IoP.

Find out more about the Time to Change campaign to get people talking about mental health 

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