New figures released on Time to Talk Day reveal the “devastating” human cost of mental health stigma

New figures, released today, reveal the devastating impact of stigma faced by those of us with a mental health problem. Results from the biggest UK wide survey into the impact of mental health stigma showed that almost two fifths (38%) of respondents had been negatively treated as a result of their mental health problem – potentially affecting millions nationwide. The independent public poll was carried out across a sample of 2,000 adults living with a range of mental health problems. 16% didn’t know or preferred not to say whether or not they had been negatively treated while fewer than half (46%) said they had not.

Of those who had experienced stigma and discrimination:

  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) lost their job
  • Over half (54%) lost contact with a loved one (friend, family member or partner)
  • More than 1 in 10 (12%) couldn’t go through with an important life event (e.g. wedding, graduation)
  • Over half (55%) stopped socialising or going out

The findings are being released on Time to Talk Day, a nation-wide push to get people talking more openly about mental health, on a day when thousands of people including celebrities; politicians; the Prime Minister; high street organisations and schools, will be doing the same. Time to Talk Day is organised by Time to Change, the campaign for England that aims to change how we all think and act about mental health problems, led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Time to Talk Day 2017 will focus on the theme ‘Conversations Change Lives’ with a target of getting people talking over 24 hours – round the clock. Time to Talk Day was established four years ago, in recognition of the fact that people talking and sharing their experiences changes the attitudes of those around them. Findings from the survey show that more than three in ten (31%) would have been encouraged to open up about their mental health problems sooner if people close to them were more open about their feelings and emotions.

Over recent years, Time to Talk Day has triggered millions of conversations across the country – both offline and online. This year, more than a thousand organisations will be organising activity around the day, including Tesco; John Lewis Partnership; Unilever; WH Smith; Tranmere Rovers Football Club and England Athletics. Several organisations will be using the day to sign the Time to Change Employer Pledge. As well as this, 600 secondary schools alongside universities and colleges, councils, national government departments and community organisations will be joining in. Celebrities such as Freddie Flintoff, Alastair Campbell and Denise Welch will also be supporting the day on social media.

Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “These figures show the devastating impact that mental health stigma continues to have on potentially millions of lives. We know that progress is being made in improving attitudes and reducing discrimination in some key areas of life but too many of us are still being made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless by other people’s reactions, resulting in the loss of what means the most – our friends, our families, our jobs.

“The good news is that being open about mental health, and ready to listen, can make a positive difference and potentially change lives. Time to Talk Day is a great reason for everyone to get involved and become part of our movement to change how we all think and act about mental health.”

Personal trainer, Neil Laybourn, had a conversation which changed the life of Jonny Benjamin when he talked him out of taking his own life when he found him standing on the edge of a London bridge.

Commenting on the importance of Time to Talk Day, Neil said: “At the time when I spoke to Jonny on the bridge, I really had no idea that having one conversation would have such a profound impact on both of us.

“Most people are fortunate enough not to struggle severely with their mental health, but being more aware of the subject and being open to listen and have conversations with those that do struggle can and will make a difference. If you are able to allow people to open up and speak, you may change somebody’s life – you don’t have to be an expert or have a qualification to have a conversation about mental health – just being human, empathetic and caring is enough.”

Jonny said: “Talking to Neil was a giant weight off my shoulders. I didn’t have to keep all the dark and distressing thoughts and feelings that encompassed me to myself once I opened up to him – and that was a huge relief. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed of what was happening to me but having Neil listen so compassionately, patiently and non -judgementally literally saved my life.”

Time to Change is asking people to log their conversation at www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday, which will be updated in real time to show just how many people are taking part.

Join in the conversation online using the hashtag #timetotalk

For information and to get involved in Time to Talk Day visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday

Matthew Pearce, Head of Communications, Hafal