Time to Change Wales secures half a million pounds to tackle mental health stigma among children and young people

Time to Change Wales hassecured nearly £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund Cymru to increase youngpeople’s awareness and understanding of mental health problems, reduce thestigma, discrimination and social isolation experienced by those with mentalhealth problems and improve wellbeing.

TTCW is led by three of Wales’s leading mental health charities: Gofal,Hafal and Mind Cymru.

Thenew Young Persons Programme will build on the existing Time to Change Walescampaign, which was launched in 2012 to reduce the stigma and discriminationfaced by adults with mental health problems in Wales. However, this new strand willbe led by, and for, young people and will:

  • Recruitand train 50 young people to lead on the development and delivery of trainingsessions and mental health awareness raising projects in schools, colleges, universitiesand other community venues.
  • Workin partnership with nine schools to embed a whole school approach to mentalhealth awareness, anti-stigma messaging and activity – led by the YoungChampions and working with teachers, parents and other school staff.
  • Targetother youth focused organisations such as schools, colleges and universities tosign the Time to Change Wales Organisational Pledge
  • Developcampaign materials to amplify our message, including online resources,leaflets, personal stories and a web presence across various social mediaplatforms throughout Wales, all led by young people.

Thisnew programme is being established in the context of increasing pressures onChild and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and a recent review of theschool curriculum (Donaldson Review). Public Health Wales has reported that thenumber of referrals to CAMHS in Wales has increased by 103% in the last fouryears. The recent Donaldson Review of the school curriculum recommended thathealth and wellbeing should be embedded in the new curriculum to build pupils’mental and emotional well-being.

Timeto Change Wales has consulted with education and youth professionals acrossWales and conducted research with young people.  A survey undertaken as part of the fundingapplication received over 700 responses from young people and found that:

  • Only28% agreed that it is easy to talk about mental health in their school orcollege
  • Themajority of respondents said they have never talked about mental health withtheir teachers but nearly 90% said they had talked to their friends about thisissue.
  • 34%of respondents agreed that young people in class would be more likely to pickon someone who had time away because of mental health problems.

AntonyMetcalfe, Programme Manager of Time to Change Wales, said: “We are delighted tohave secured funding from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver a brand newanti-stigma campaign for children and young people. It is crucial that actionto improve mental health and reduce discrimination starts at a young age and webelieve that this campaign will play an important part in this agenda. We arereally pleased to have the support of schools and teaching professionals acrossWales and look forward to working with them to improve the lives of youngpeople.”

Boththe Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association ofHead Teachers have backed the campaign.

RobWilliams, NAHT Cymru Director of Policy said: “We welcome the WelshGovernment’s recognition that wellbeing is at the heart of a thriving society.The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act identifies key areas to whichwe should all aim – two of the key areas include resilience and health.

“We are therefore proudand delighted to put our full support behind the Time for Change Wales YoungPersons Programme and, in the future, wish to see it impact at a national levelfor the benefit of all children and young people in Wales.”

TimPratt, Director of ASCL Cymru added: “This is great news forthe young people of Wales. We are delighted to be able to work with Time toChange Wales, and have no doubt that this funding from the Big Lottery fundwill enable significant strides to be made in tackling some of the issueslinked to young people’s mental health problems in Wales”

MairElliott, young person’s mental health campaigner, said: “Growing up sometimes isn’t easy,but if you can’t talk about the difficulties you are experiencing theneverything can become so much harder. In my experience facing mental healthstigma is almost as bad as suffering with mental illness itself.

Time to Change Wales’ new Campaign isdesigned to help with just that. This is a perfect opportunity to tackle mentalhealth stigma amongst the young population in Wales. This Campaign will createa generation of people who don’t have to face stigma and discrimination, andcan talk about mental health openly without fear. ”

Planning for thecampaign has already begun with the programme set to launch in June 2016 andcontinue until June 2019. If you would like any further information on thecampaign please contact Time to Change Wales at info@timetochangewales.org.uk