Employment discrimination against people with mental health problems in England has fallen significantly since the launch of a national campaign to combat the stigma of mental ill-health, it was revealed today.
Research commissioned by the Time To Change campaign found that the proportion of individuals facing discrimination when searching for a job dropped from 25% to 16%. There has also been a fall from 19% to 13% in the proportion of people who reported losing their job due to a mental health problem.
The study by the Institute of Psychiatry in London, which surveyed 1000 service users on their experiences in 22 areas of life, found the proportion experiencing any form of discrimination had fallen from 91% to 87%.
This suggests Time To Change, which is led by mental health charities Mind and Rethink and was launched in January 2009, is well on course to meet its target of reducing levels of discrimination against people with mental health problems by 5% by 2012.
However , the head of the campaign, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief, said there was still a long way to go.
Director Sue Baker said: “We can’t be complacent. Our challenge now is to continue with our work in order to reduce the incidents of discrimination that are still so widely reported by people with mental health problems.
“Nearly nine out of 10 people with mental health problems have been affected by stigma and discrimination, with two-thirds saying they have stopped doing things because of this.”
The institute is conducting annual surveys of 1000 people with mental health problems to assess their experiences of discrimination and to measure the progress of the campaign.
Time To Change was launched last year with a national advertising campaign fronted by Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax and Alastair Campbell. This year the campaign is fronted by former boxer Frank Bruno and television presenter Trisha Goddard.
Besides the national campaign, Time To Change is running 28 local projects to tackle stigma and providing training for student doctors and teachers on mental health.
Further findings from the institute show that Time To Change is having an effect on attitudes.
People who are aware of the campaign are 19% more likely to agree that people with mental illness are far less dangerous than people suppose, than those unaware of Time To Change.