“Mental health stigma costs over a year of support”

Anew survey by the mental health anti-stigma campaign Time to Change reveals thatnearly 60% of people with a mental health problem are waiting over a year totell the people closest to them about it. The data, which shows that stigma isstill preventing people from getting support from their family and friends whenthey need it the most, is being released on Time to Talk Day (today, Thursday 5February), when the nation is encouraged to break the silence surroundingmental health problems.

Thesurvey, which had responses from nearly 6,000 people who have direct experienceof a mental health problem, also found that more encouragingly, 73% said thatonce they finally did tell family and friends, they were the most supportive ofall groups including employers, colleagues, teachers, GPs/doctors and onlinenetworks.

Timeto Change, which is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness inEngland and Gofal, Hafal and Mind Cymru in Wales, has launched the new data aspart of Time to Talk Day when people are being encouraged to take 5 minutes onthe 5th to have a conversation and bring the topic of mental healthout from the shadows. One in four people experience mental health problems andtalking about the issue helps to break down the stigma and discrimination thatmany face as a result – making it easier for people to access the support ofthose around them much earlier.

Whenasked about the impact that stigma and discrimination has on their life, 64% ofpeople said it was as bad as or worse than the mental health problem itself. 

Otherfindings from the survey include:

·       40%currently experience stigma and discrimination either weekly or monthly.

·       66%said that stigma and discrimination had stopped them from socialising.

·       39%said it had stopped them from having a relationship.

·       44%said they were most worried about telling family or friends about their mentalhealth problem compared to 6% who said they were most worried about tellingtheir GP/doctor.

However, when asked about whether ornot things had improved since getting involved with Time to Change, the picturebecomes more positive with 66% saying they became more confident to tell theirfriends and family about their mental health problem, and 32% saying they weremore confident in seeking help.

Hundredsof organisations including Barclays, HSBC, Air France & KLM, BT, PostOffice, Devon & Cornwall Police and Network Rail, and individuals, havesigned up to take part in Time to Talk Day by organising activities in localcommunities and in their workplaces. Celebrities will also be supporting theday by tweeting selfies in specially designed t-shirts by British contemporaryartist Stuart Semple.

Coincidentally, thefindings from the survey are currently being played out on TV’s longest runningsoap as Coronation Street’s Steve McDonald has been finding it hard to come toterms with his diagnosis of clinical depression and has been hiding it fromfamily and friends.

SueBaker, Director of Time to Change, said: “It’s shocking to see that so manypeople are still waiting over a year to talk to their nearest and dearest –it’s hard to imagine this happening with other health issues. We know thattalking openly about mental health is a vital first step towards breaking downstigma and discrimination, so we are asking people to take 5 minutes on the 5thFebruary to do just that. With major employers, politicians, universities,schools and tens of thousands of individuals taking part, we’ve come a long waytowards breaking the silence but this new data shows there is still muchfurther to go until talking about mental health is an ordinary and unremarkablething to do.”.

For information and to get involved in Time to Talk Day visitwww.timetochangewales.org.uk/en/talk-about-mental-health/time-talk-day-2015/