mental illness - kidsMore than 60% of people with mental health problems admit to feeling isolated, worthless and ashamed about their condition because of the stigma and discrimination they have faced, a new survey has revealed.

The survey of more than 7,000 people with mental health problems was released to coincide with Time to Talk Day, which is organised by the Time to Change campaign, which is run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and aims to get the nation to have more open conversations about mental health in order to tackle this stigma.

Despite the devastating effects of stigma, the survey found progress has been made with 57% of respondents saying it’s easier to talk about mental health problems than in previous years. Talking can be a help – 60% said they felt better once they did start to talk about their mental health problems, saying they felt relieved and like a weight had been lifted.   

For Time to Talk Day, people are being asked to take part in a nationwide 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, 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. In addition, 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 London Victoria, Liverpool Street, Waterloo, Bristol Temple Meads and Liverpool Lime Street stations. On Time to Change’s website there are tips and tools to help people have their conversations.

Ahead of Time to Change Day, on February 3, Everton’s players wore specially designed Time to Talk t-shirts for the warm up. In addition, the club’s big screens highlighted the work carried out by Everton in the Community in the area of mental health wellbeing to the near 40,000 crowd prior to kick-off and during half-time. 

In advance of kick-off, the Club’s designated Time to Change Employee Champions, Andrew Critchley and Dave Curtis, were interviewed on the Fan Zone and in the Matchday Hub at Goodison Park, and 12 volunteers from Time to Change were available around the ground to engage with any fans wishing to talk or learn more about mental health wellbeing, Time to Talk day and Everton in the Community.

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.”

The British Safety Council is also backing Time to Talk Day. Neal Stone, policy and standards director at the British Safety Council, said. “We know that there are major challenges when it comes to mental health and work, and it affects government, businesses and ultimately individuals – without question more needs to be done, and it starts with creating the space to have the conversations. Time to Talk Day is an important campaign to get this conversation going. 

“In the UK mental ill health costs £70 billion per year according to a recent OECD report. This is roughly 4.5% of GDP in lost productivity at work, benefit payments and health care expenditure. Employers have a role to play in tackling this as better policies and practices in identifying and addressing these conditions help create the space for people to recognise and deal with mental health issues and get back to work. It can start with a few simple steps like talking to staff and building healthy workplaces.”

Join in the conversation online using the #timetotalk