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How do we reduce the stigma of adolescent mental health problems asks Venetia Boon Time to Change

Venetia BoonVenetia Boon

Venetia opened the presentation saying Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. We are funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.

Time to Change was set up in 2007 and has already achieved significant improvements in public attitudes and reductions in average levels of discrimination reported in 2011 compared to 2008. In 2011 we extended our programme to include children and young people and developed a three year pilot.

1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem between the ages of 5 and 16. This equates to three young people in an average class of 30. Yet despite it being a relatively common occurrence, young people we speak to say there is still a stigma associated with mental health problems. As young people become young adults, accessing adult services and perhaps living away from home for the first time, the issues of stigma and discrimination continue to affect them.

"Stigma Shouts are the thing we go back to if we are going off par"

The Children and Young People’s project works with stakeholders across the country to encourage young people to change their attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems. Our work involves a combination of targeted social marketing and on-the-ground work with teachers, youth professionals and community leaders. The project team is trialing two approaches to provide evidence of the best model for this work. We know that it is better for people to seek help early and we also know that people sometimes avoid seeking help due to fear of the stigma of mental health problems.

The most effective way to tackle stigma is through social contact – that is bringing together people with and without experience of mental health problems. Therefore the centre of our work is our cohort of young people with lived experience, who speak about their experiences to the people we train. Our Youth Panel and Virtual Panel also include young people without experience of mental health problems, who help give the perspective of the 9 in 10 young people that do not have experience of mental health problems. This helps ensures our work is likely to be supported by young people with experience of mental health problems, and is also effective in changing attitudes and behavior amongst those that do not.

For more information on the CYP campaign

For more information on our upcoming November campaign

For more information about Time to Change in general

Lifetime Impacts: Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health, Understanding the Lifetime Impacts, Mental Health Foundation, 2005

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Download: Venetia Boon Presentation

9 October 2014


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