UK Government launches national campaign to end mental health stigma

The push comes amid a background of cuts to mental health services, however

Jon Stone
Thursday 22 October 2015 09:59 BST
The campaign targets young people's attitudes
The campaign targets young people's attitudes

A new government campaign aimed at reducing the stigma around mental health is to be launched, ministers have announced.

The scheme, which will target young people, will make sure of social media and school visits and see a new information website set up.

Ministers claim the campaign will be the largest ever of its kind.

“This is something that young people have asked for – better information about mental health, tailored specifically for them, online,” Community and care minister Alistair Burt said.

“And I am pleased to say that we are doing exactly that. Today we have launched a new section of NHS Choices which specifically focuses on youth mental health.”

The Government will work with the charity Time To Change, which campaigns against mental health stigma.

“Young people have told us that stigma is life-limiting - it affects friendships and school life, and for a quarter it even makes them want to give up on life. This has to be the generation for change,” said Sue Baker, director of the charity.

The Government has also commissioned a new survey of young people’s mental health, the first since 2004, which will be used to help design services.

A new £500,000 fund will also be set up to encourage the development of online tools that support young people’s mental health.

The new policies come amid a backdrop of sharp cuts to mental health services, with £35 million cut last year despite rhetorical commitments from the Government.

Leading mental health charity Mind has also warned that some aspects of government policy could be unintentionally damaging mental health.

Recent research found that the government’s welfare-to-work schemes were actually making it more difficult for people with mental health problems to work and were also damaging their mental health.

Mind policy manager Tom Pollard earlier this week reiterated a call for a shift from benefit sanctions to tailored support.

“We know that this approach is not working for people with mental health problems and is instead putting people under a lot of pressure, causing great anxiety, and making them less likely to be able to get back into work,” he said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made mental health a priority area and announced the creation of a new dedicated shadow cabinet Minister for Mental Health.

He also raised the issue at his first Prime Minister’s Questions and spent his first day visiting an NHS mental health trust in his constituency.

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