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Mental health stigma can delay help up to a year

Feb 05 2015

A survey by the mental health anti-stigma campaign Time to Change in England reveals that nearly 60% of people with a mental health problem are waiting over a year to tell the people closest to them about it. The data, which shows that stigma is still preventing people from getting support from their family and friends when they need it the most, was released as part of Time to Talk Day, when people across England were encouraged to break the silence surrounding mental health problems.

The survey, which is the biggest of its kind in England with responses from nearly 6,000 people who have direct experience of a mental health problem, also found that more encouragingly, 73% said that once they finally did tell family and friends, they were the most supportive of all groups including employers, colleagues, teachers, health care providers and online networks. Time to Change is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Time to Talk Day takes on mental health stigma

The new data was released as part of Time to Talk Day, a day when people were encouraged to take 5 minutes to have a conversation and bring the topic of mental health out from the shadows. According to Time to Change, one in four people experience mental health problems and talking about the issue helps to break down the stigma and discrimination that many face as a result – making it easier for people to access the support of those around them much earlier.

  • When asked about the impact that stigma and discrimination has on their life, 64% of people said it was as bad as or worse than the mental health problem itself.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 40% currently experience stigma and discrimination either weekly or monthly.
  • 66% said that stigma and discrimination had stopped them from socialising.
  • 39% said it had stopped them from having a relationship.
  • 44% said they were most worried about telling family or friends about their mental health problem compared to 6% who said they were most worried about telling their doctor.

Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, said the new data shows there is still much further to go until talking about mental health is “an ordinary and unremarkable thing to do. It’s shocking to see that so many people are still waiting over a year to talk to their nearest and dearest – it’s hard to imagine this happening with other health issues. We know that talking openly about mental health is a vital first step toward breaking down stigma and discrimination.”

According to the research, the message is starting to make a difference:  66% of respondents said they became more confident to tell their friends and family about their mental health problem after getting involved with Time to Change. And 32% said they were more confident in seeking help.

For information about Time to Talk Day visit