Health Minister launches campaign to end mental health discrimination in Wales

Published on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 11:05
Written by Scott Buckler

Time to Change Wales is the first national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems throughout Wales and launches at the Wales Millennium Centre 21st February with opening speech by Health and Social Services Minister Lesley Griffiths AM

Many people with mental illness report that the effects of stigma can be just as harmful as the illness itself, making it more difficult to ask for help and talk openly with friends, family and employers. Writer, broadcaster and teacher Beverley Lennon, speaking at the launch about her own experience of stigma and recovery from severe depression, says:

As a professional rebuilding my life and career after a period of mental illness, I know how much stigma there still is. I’ve found being able to speak openly so helpful - and many others have told me the same thing.

Kira Withers-Jones, a designer who is campaigning with Time to Change Wales following her own experience with mental illness said:

We need to break down stigma. If people weren’t afraid to ask for help in the first place they could recover quicker. There would be fewer people leaving their jobs because they can’t cope, fewer people on disability living allowance for depression, and fewer people on long-term medication.

Time to Change Wales is funded for three years by Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Welsh Government following the success of Time to Change in England. It is delivered by Wales’ leading mental health charities Gofal, Hafal and Mind Cymru. The campaign aims to achieve a 5% reduction in reported stigma and discrimination over the three years. This will be achieved through a high profile marketing campaign to improve knowledge and attitudes, and a campaign of community activism led by local activists and trainers with experience of mental health problems.

Ian Cutler, Time To Change Programme Manager says:

With one in four people in the population experiencing a mental health problem at some point in their life, we should all be concerned about mental illness; not only because of the obvious personal distress to the individual, but also the economic cost estimated at £7.2 billion a year in Wales alone.

Time To Change Wales was awarded over one million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund’s £15 million Mental Health Matters programme.  Big Lottery Fund Wales Committee Member and Chair of the Mental Health Matters Committee, Barbara Wilding, said:

People with mental health problems are some of the most disadvantaged people in society and often experience multiple deprivation so it is important to recognise and raise awareness about the issue. Many are isolated and have low self-esteem and low aspirations. Their condition is made worse by the stigma, lack of understanding and discrimination they face daily. By taking a multi-organisation approach to tackling stigma, the Time to Change Wales campaign will promote discussion and have a significant impact on the lives of people who suffer with mental health problems.

Judith McNeil, Comic Relief’s Grant Director, said:

"We are delighted to be supporting Time to Change in Wales, it’s a great step towards tackling the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental ill health across the country. Through the new programme, we can build on the insights and tools that have come from our work with Time to Change England, and work towards breaking down one of the last forms of discrimination still faced daily by people all over Wales and the rest of the UK.”

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths said:

"Developing a mentally healthy Wales requires people to be able to seek help and support when mental health problems arise.
Time to Change Wales is the first national campaign in Wales designed to challenge the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems and their families.
I am pleased the Welsh Government is able to co-fund the campaign, whose central aim is to change negative attitudes and behaviour towards mental illness by inspiring people to work together to challenge stigma and discrimination."


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