campaign to combat mental illness stigma
July 26, 2007
by Angela Hussain
ever campaign in England to combat the stigma of mental illness
has been launched.
The Big Lottery Fund is pumping
£16m into a campaign which will include anti-stigma television
advertisements. Comic Relief is providing £2m.
The campaign, entitled Moving
People, will be run by the charities Mental Health Media, Mind and
Rethink together with the Institute of Psychiatry. The campaign
aims to reach 30 million people across England.
Campaigners say people with mental
health problems are one of the most excluded groups in society,
and the announcement of the campaign comes on the heels of Department
of Health research published this month which claimed there has
been an increase in prejudice over the last ten years.
The research found, for example,
there has been a drop in people who believe those with mental health
problems should have the same right to a job as anyone else, In
2003 it was 68%, but this year it was 65%.
The research also reported that
over the last four years there has been a 17% increase in people
saying those with mental health problems are "prone to violence".
This year it was 34%. In 2003 it was 29%.
The department of health research
suggests young people are those most prejudiced towards people with
mental health problems. Younger people are less likely to agree
that "we need to adopt a far more tolerant attitude towards
people with mental illness in our society". Only 79% of 16-34
year olds agree with this statement, compared to 87% of 35-54 year
olds and 86% of over 55s.
The government says it backs the
Moving People campaign.
Ivan Lewis, the care services
minister who took over responsibility for mental health this month,
said: "We should now unite to launch a sustained national campaign
against the stigma and ignorance which has blighted the lives of
too many people with mental health problems for too long."
Campaigners say the anti-stigma message has
had more impact in Scotland where the Scottish Executive has backed
an anti-stigma campaign at a level more than 40 times per person
higher than in England and Wales.
Campaigners point out that, from
2002 to 2005, the proportion of people in Scotland saying people
with mental health problems are often dangerous fell from 32% to
15%. This is a drop of around half, compared to the 17% increase
in England in the belief that people with mental health problems
are prone to violence.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of
Mind, said: "The minister for mental health, Ivan Lewis, has
said that this prejudice should be as unacceptable as racism in
modern society, and we couldn't agree more. Sadly, it seems we're
further than ever from making this a reality.
"The cost of stigma is high.
It prevents many people with mental health problems from living
normal lives, and it deters people from seeking help when they need
"That young people appear
to be most likely to hold inaccurate and prejudiced views about
people with mental health problems is particularly worrying. It's
crucial, for their own well being, that young people are confident
discussing mental health problems with their peers, without the
fear of stigma."
"We need to transfer the
lessons learnt from the successes of Scotland's anti-stigma campaign
to England and Wales."
As well as TV advertisements,
the Moving People campaign will bring together people with and without
mental health problems, train 10,000 leaders and professionals (for
example medical students and trainee teachers) who are in a position
to combat discrimination, and encourage legal challenges to discriminatory
Read for yourself:
Department of Health's Attitudes
to Mental Illness in England 2007 research (pdf)
We need rights,
not another campaign
Louise Pembroke, mental health activist, London
August 2, 2007
Sadly, some of the findings do not surprise me and I lay a lot of
the blame at the door of the government and the media.
is the Department of Health and Home Office which have have promoted
a culture of fear and risk with emphasis on 'public protection'
particularly since the Michael Stone case.
Then the media continues with its journalistic understanding of
distress, which means all to often going for the facile sensationalist
headlines. Even the more intelligent media still go for the easy
hooks, using service users only for their experiences, and professionals
providing the analysis.
Service users/survivors need more editorial control in TV programmes.
I remember the 'We're not mad we're angry' screened on C4, which
was entirely user/survivor written and produced. I want to see producers
and directors hand over resources for us to make one programme a
year with full editorial control. I have little faith in these anti-stigma
campaigns and I don't want distress promoted as 'just another illness'
because I don't support the medical model. We need rights not another
David Bowker, retired consultant psychiatrist, Manchester
October 4, 2007
This campaign is likely to be a dreadful waste of money. The problem
of stigma has in the past few years been made more likely by the
separation of so-called mental health services from mainstream medical
health services into mental health trusts.
In addition stigma (in the proper sense of that word) is inevitable
in some instances and surely it
is better to acknowledge this in an honest way and at the same time
work at adaption and the education of others at the level of the
this, perhaps the best way to counter stigma is to provide attractive
well-staffed services at all levels whether in the community or
contribution of £16M could be spent far more wisely.
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