Dave's Progress. Chapter 84: A Change for the Better.

It's difficult sometimes when speaking of mental ill health not to get bogged down in negativity. The prejudice, the stigma, the discrimination; not to mention the debilitating and harrowing nature of mental illness itself. So, it is my joy to announce, that according to some recent statistics, the experience of stigma and discrimination amongst those who have experienced mental ill health may be on the wane. This new research has come from the organisers of the "Time to Change" campaign, of which I have spoken in this blog before.
Time to Change is a national campaign, funded by both Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund to the tune of some £20 million. The campaign is a national one and is truly wide-ranging, or, to use the modern jargon, "multi-platform". It has 35 projects in all, including local community projects, a high-profile national campaign, a mass-participation physical activity week, legal test cases, training for student doctors and teachers, and a network of grassroots activists combating discrimination.
Time to Change launched in January 2009, and, having carried out a survey of those with experience of mental distress, now reports that there has been a marked reduction in the experience of discrimination. More precise figures from the Institute of Psychiatry, published in July, show that the overall level of discrimination reported by people who have experienced mental ill health has dropped by 4 per cent in the last 12 months. The levels of discrimination faced when searching for a job dropped by 9 per cent and there was a 6 per cent reduction in the number of people who report losing their job due to having a mental illness. Meanwhile, findings from a Department of Health study showed a 2.2% improvement in public attitudes from 2008 to 2010, with a significant 1.3% improvement in attitudes from 2009 to 2010 when the Time to Change campaign began.
You may wonder how such precise statistics are arrived at, and I can honestly say that I don't really know. Suffice it to say that there has been a lot of research done by both Time to Change and the Institute of Psychiatry in to measuring public perceptions. The Institute of Psychiatry's research, led by (yes, it's that man again!) Professor Graham Thornicroft, has led him to suggest that things may be at a "tipping point". He stated:
"These findings are very encouraging and after only one year there is clear evidence of the positive achievements of Time to Change. This raises the intriguing possibility that we may be approaching a tipping point at which more and more people feel able to speak about their own experience of mental ill health, and that this will then lead to a step change in public acceptance and social inclusion."
So, there is definitely hope and solace to be taken from these new findings. I can only hope that our own anti-stigma campaign at the Media Action Group for Mental Health, "Local People, Local Lives", will have a similar effect on our local population. It has been said before that purely educational campaigns are not wholly effective, but Time to Change's multi-faceted approach does seem to have brought about a change for the better.
That's all for now from your normal, average, delusional and paranoid man.
(The statistics and quotes in this blog were taken from "mentalhealth today" magazine, issue September 2010).

Comments

bazza said…
It's good to be able to learn of some good news for a change, David.
We all know that 87.4% of statistics are made up but nevertheless.....
Hope Ambassador said…
I am so impressed with campaign. I can only hope that something like this occurs in Canada.

I was pleased to see something yesterday in my local papar - a positive story about 3 young men with mental illness who are doing well and speaking out about their lives.

Awesome to hear the good news. Thanks, David.
David said…
Dear bazza,
Yes, of course, there are lies, damn lies and then statistics! However, one does hope that this reflects more enlightened times.
Thanks, bazza.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
David.
David said…
Dear Sonya,
Indeed, positive stories in the media seem to be a rarity. We all know what we usually get- a stream of stories connecting mental illness to violence. So, it is good to hear that you actually saw something positive in the news media.
As for Time to Change, after a rather shaky beginning, it seems to be finally achieving some progress. I hope you get your wish and a similar campaign goes ahead in Canada.
Thanks for your interest, Sonya.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
David.
klahanie said…
Dear David,
Apologies for dropping by so late in the proceedings.
A most encouraging post. I have noted a more open-minded attitude to those of us who are experiencing mental health concerns. I have witnessed this through the reactions from those who I have met. Instead of stigmatising and labelling me, I have found a most encouraging display of people who wish to better understand the causes of such concerns.
This has also been clearly demonstrated from the comments we have received on our blogs.
Now, as you are aware, I struggled somewhat with certain parts of the 'Time to Change' approach. This be 'loud and proud' attitude they espoused was a conflict with my own philosophy in getting the message better across.
Still, the bottom line is that if the Time to Change campaign is impacting in a positive way, then that has got to be a worthy ideal.
Thank you for this informative post, David.
Kind wishes and respect, Gary.
David said…
Dear Gary,
Glad that you found this post "informative" and your own expereince would seem to reflect this improvement in attitudes.
I hope things continue on this upward curve and I hope that all is well with you and your family.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
David.

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