Time to Change is England’s biggest programme dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination people with mental health problems face daily. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief, and Big Lottery Fund.
In a given year, one in four people will experience a mental health problem. Despite how common it is, nine out of ten people will experience stigma and discrimination as a result of their illness. Time to Change want to empower people with mental health problems; they want sufferers to feel confident talking about the issue without facing discrimination.
Time to Change runs a high-profile national marketing campaign that targets the three in four people who have not experienced mental health problems first hand, though they may know someone who has, including family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. The target audience are those who don’t realise the impact their attitudes and behaviours can have or aren’t sure how to speak to those with a mental illness. The national campaign is combined with funding for community activity, grassroots anti-stigma projects, and a wide range of support programs for the mentally ill. The hope is that people with experience of mental health problems become active social leaders, starting and continuing important conversations about mental health. Evidence suggests that this kind of open dialogue (between the mentally ill and the community) is one of the most effective ways of ending discrimination and breaking down the stigmas surrounding mental illness. Work is also carried out with the media, a wide range of organisations, Black and minority ethnic communities, children, and young adults.
Time to Change started in October 2007 and, since then, it has reached millions of people across England. Recent research highlighted that Time to Change is having a positive effect on public attitudes and that stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health might be more prevalent without the campaign. There is still a huge amount of work to do: Time to Change is committed to continue this project until no one has to face stigma and discrimination due to a mental health problem. Though there is a long ocean to cross, the tides are shifting in favour of understanding and compassion. We are finally starting to move in the right direction.
For more information or to get involved please visit www.time-to-change.org.uk
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