The national mental health anti-stigma campaign
People with mental health problems who use NHS and social care services describe being treated with disrespect, or as a nuisance, both when presenting in an emergency and during more routine interventions. And they describe how their symptoms can be down played or even ignored by staff.
Mental health and mental illness are becoming increasingly more visible – in the media, in public debate, within the NHS and social care. But the reality is that the experiences and outcomes of people affected by mental illness are hugely variable across the country. We have a long way to go before we can confidently say that NHS and social care services are consistently and measurably meeting the needs of people affected by mental illness.
This is reflected in funding, rights, quality, experience and outcomes. The Fab Change Day Time to Change campaign has two aims:
- To get staff to consider their own attitudes to mental illness, individually and with their colleagues
- To ask staff who have experienced mental illness and who are willing to do so, to speak about their experiences, thus reducing the sense of “them” and “us
How to take part:
- Tweet that you’re getting involved to #FabChangeDay and this campaign
- Watch a video at time-to-change.org.uk/video-stories
- Find someone who has used mental health services and ask them to share their experiences, in confidence, or if you’ve used the services, share your experiences with someone.
Time to Change http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/ is the national mental health anti-stigma campaign, running since 2007. Time to Change works with individuals, local groups, companies and public sector bodies at local and national level to raise awareness and reduce stigma. Time to Change also commissions research to measure the impact of these activities. In their last annual report, they published evidence that demonstrated a measurable improvement in public attitudes towards people who need help with mental health problems.
That is the good news. Unfortunately, people with mental health problems who use NHS and social care services, including NHS mental health services, do not report such an improvement over this timescale. In fact, some say that things have got worse. They describe being treated with disrespect, or as a nuisance, both when presenting in an emergency and during more routine interventions. And they describe how their symptoms can be downplayed or even ignored by staff.
The impacts of this are various and far-reaching:
- People with mental illness can be treated without the compassion and respect that are essential for effective health care
- People with mental illness may not receive the treatment that they need in a timely manner, or they may not receive it at all
- The links between mental and physical illness can be forgotten or ignored, causing detriment to people with either or both. For example, people with serious mental illnesses die on average 20 years earlier than the general population, most often linked to preventable diseases such as heart and/or lung diseases, some types of cancer and strokes
- People with mental illness report that staff can have a pessimistic outlook on their life chances, including relationships, education, employment and social contribution
- NHS and social care staff who themselves experience mental illness often feel the need to hide it from their colleagues and when applying for jobs. Mental illness is not seen as something to be proud of overcoming in the way that some physical diseases are portrayed
Please join us and help make mental health everyone’s business.
Individual NHS and social care staff
- I commit to starting a conversation with a colleague about attitudes towards mental illness
- I commit to reading or watching a video of someone talking about their experience of mental health http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/video-stories
- I commit to finding someone who has used mental health services and asking them to share their experiences with me, in confidence http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health/tips
- I commit to speaking with a colleague about my own experiences of mental illness, making sure I have support to do so http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health/telling-someone-about-your-mental-health-problem
Team or department
- I commit to reviewing what my team or department are doing to improve our mental health as a workforce http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/take-action/work-place
- I commit to listening really carefully, with colleagues, to the experiences of people with mental illness who need to use our services, and to taking action accordingly
- We commit to presenting to our Trust Board the need to improve, and asking them to sign up as an employer to Time to Change http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/organisation-pledge-step-by-step
- We commit to finding out more about the programme Time to Change aimed specifically at the NHS and social care, and consider applying to become a pilot site