We have a dream that one day derogatory and pejorative descriptions of people with mental health problems - and use of 'nutter', 'mental' 'schizophrenic' etc as terms of derision and abuse - will be as unacceptable as derogatory racist language.
We have a dream that people with mental health problems will be able to talk of their experiences, dreams and aspirations without these being ignored and written off as unrealistic, lacking in insight, or the ramblings of a deranged mind.
Taken From Repper and Perkins' Social Inclusion and Recovery'
Stigma and discrimination still have a huge impact on the lives of people with mental health problems, even though one in four people will experience a problem at some time in their lives.
It’s time to tackle this last great taboo.
Over the last decade, there have been huge advances in our understanding and treatment of mental health problems and increased investment in services. We are moving closer to a society where recovering a full and meaningful life from mental health problems is the norm rather than the exception.
However, there remains one massive barrier – discrimination.
People with mental health problems consistently identify discrimination as one of their biggest issues and almost nine out of ten people affected by mental health problems have experienced discrimination.
Attitudes need changing
Until now, England has lacked a long-term campaign to raise public awareness about good mental health, counter pervasive negative stereotypes and challenge discrimination.
Despite attitudes about sexuality, ethnicity and other similar issues improving, research shows that prejudice against people with mental health problems is actually increasing.
But there is a climate for change. The government has recognised the impact of stigma and that public attitudes are not improving.
New Zealand and Scotland have set the standards internationally for public anti-stigma campaigns, while the research community has been contributing to a growing knowledge base of what works.
In England there have been relatively small-scale, piecemeal attempts to challenge the stigma and discrimination around mental health. But there has not been one coordinated, long-term, well-funded approach to combating stigma, with the reach and expertise to really make a difference.
That is why Mental Health Media, Mind, Rethink and the Institute of Psychiatry have come together as Time to Change, to combine their knowledge and expertise in the biggest ever England-wide attempt to end the discrimination around mental health.
Our funders have recognised the importance of this issue, and it is the English public, through the National Lottery Fund and Comic Relief, who have made this vital work possible.
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