An England-wide survey of over 7,000 people with mental health problems shows that nearly two thirds of people in the South West are left feeling isolated (62 per cent), worthless (64 per cent) and ashamed (63 per cent) because of the stigma and discrimination they have faced.
The findings are released on a day when the nation is asked to have more open conversations about mental health in order to tackle this stigma, called Time to Talk Day (4 February). The day is organised by the Time to Change campaign, which is run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
Despite the devastating effects of stigma, the survey – the biggest of its kind – found progress has been made with over half of respondents in the South West (57 per cent) saying it’s easier to talk about mental health problems than in previous years. Sixty percent of people also felt better once they did start to talk about their mental health problems, saying they felt relieved and like a weight had been lifted.
This is why Time to Change is urging the nation to have more open conversations about mental health and to start this on Time to Talk Day, when thousands of others will be doing the same.
In Bristol the public are invited to attend open days in the community – at Hamilton House (10am – 8pm), The Station at Silver Street (10am – 4pm) or the Bristol Royal Infirmary (10am – 4pm) – to pop in for a coffee and join the conversation. Time to Change Bristol’s Champions and volunteers will be on hand to engage with members of the public and encourage open conversations about mental health, building the buzz in Bristol.
The Time to Change Bristol team is a consortium of Time to Change Champions, organisations and community groups campaigning to end stigma and discrimination in and around Bristol. Key partners involved include: Bristol City Council, NHS Bristol CCG, Bristol Mental Health, Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN), WellBeans Initiative, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, UWE Bristol, Bristol Mind, Bristol Rethink Mental Illness, Wellspring and CASS. For more information about Time to Change Bristol and its partners, go to:http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday-online
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said:
“I know what a widespread issue this is and am determined that Bristol become a place where we can talk openly about mental health issues by breaking down the barriers and stigmas that prevent this. Most people seem to be able to talk freely about all sorts of physical problems or illness and we need to put mental health on the same footing. I hope lots of people will get involved in the Time to Talk Day in Bristol and join the conversation. I shall.”
Nationwide, people are being asked to take part in a competition to see which county can have the most conversations about mental health. Once people have had their conversations they will be asked to log them on an interactive online map at www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday, which will be updated in real time to show which counties are talking the most throughout the day.
More than a thousand organisations will be taking part including, O2, Royal Mail, the FA and Everton Football Club. As well as this, 500 secondary schools alongside universities and colleges, councils, national government departments and community organisations will all be joining in. Celebrities and politicians will also be supporting the day by tweeting selfies indicating which county they’ll be talking for.
A short film is being launched online to show the kinds of conversations that can make a big difference, supported by online and radio advertising. 48,000 tea bags and coasters -encouraging people to have a cup of tea and a chat – will be handed out with the Metro newspaper at Bristol Temple Meads and other stations across the country. On Time to Change’s website there are tips and tools to help people have their conversations.
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said:
“This survey shows that stigma is still having a huge impact on how people feel about themselves and holding back their lives. We have got to continue to make progress, show that mental health isn’t something to be ashamed of and tackle the causes of stigma and discrimination.
“Having a day when we encourage the nation to talk about mental health collectively can give people the confidence to have these conversations and show that you don’t have to be an expert on mental health. We need to replace silence and stigma with talking, greater understanding and support.”
Join in the local conversation online using the hashtag #timetotalk or #brizzlebuzz
For information and to get involved in Time to Talk Day visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday