February 5th 2015 was ‘Time to Talk day’. This was a campaign set up by ‘Time to Change’ which is led by charities including MIND and Rethink Mental Illness. The idea behind it is to encourage people to talk about mental illness in the hope it will reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with it.
MIND tell us that public attitudes to mental health have made the greatest annual improvement in the past twenty years. Some statistics from the ‘National Attitudes to Mental Illness’ survey established the following:
- A six percent rise in willingness to “continue a relationship with a friend with a mental health problem”;
- A seven percent rise in willingness to “work with someone with a mental health problem”;
- A five percent rise in willingness “to live nearby to someone with a mental health problem; and
- A five percent rise in willingness to “live with a person with a mental health problem”.
Actress Beverly Callard (Liz McDonald in Coronation Street) and Ex-Footballer Clarke Carlisle who played for Burnley are amongst the recent personalities to support the Time to Talk campaign by speaking out about their experiences of depression.
Beverly Callard told BBC Manchester “I had one person say to me, and we’d been friends for a long time, ‘I don’t think we should see each other for a while because you’re not yourself and you’re not good for me’.”
One in four people suffer from mental illness in the UK and the cut backs to NHS services are having a significant impact on services available for them. In a survey of 2000 patients, one in six said they had attempted suicide while waiting for treatment, four in ten said they self-harmed and two thirds said their condition had deteriorated before they had the chance to see a mental health professional.
So will talking about mental illness lead to a reduction in the stigma attached to mental illness?
Research appears to indicate that it will.
Will this lead to a reduction in the number of people finding themselves in crisis as a result of a mental health problem?
In my experience of working with people who have a mental illness, those who do not feel stigmatised and have a good support network in the community are more likely to seek help when they need it which can avoid the need for compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act.
Charlotte Butler-Brewster, Solicitor
Posted on Friday, 13th February 2015