Church tackles mental health stigma

THE CHURCH of England is working to combat a modern mental health epidemic, affecting one in four people in the UK.
To mark World Mental Health Day, the new joint initiative the ‘Time to Change’ campaign was launched at Church House.
A pack for churches has been produced, providing ideas and resources for churches to plan worship on the theme of mental health.
The Rev Eva McIntyre of the Church of England’s mental health group, said: “Statistics tell us that one in four people in the UK will suffer from a form of mental illness during their lives – in every 20 people in church, four are likely to have experienced some form of mental illness.
“That statistic is based just on the people who go to the GP for help, so the real figure is probably even higher. If we can take away the stigma associated with talking about mental illness, more people will feel able to access help, support and justice.
“Churches are seen as places where support and acceptance can be found, so we really need to educate ourselves about these issues, so that we don’t get it wrong when people do open up and talk about their struggles.”
Time to Change has managed to secure £20m in funding from the Department of Health and from Comic Relief, which will continue until March 2015.
Welcoming the news, actor Stephen Fry said the boost in funding would help challenge the stigmatization of mental health problems in the UK. “Stigma, it seems to me, is the thing that we most have to address and Time to Change is precisely the campaign that attempts to do that,” he said.
Director of Time for Change Sue Baker said that stigma and discrimination ruin lives and prevent people with mental health problems using their full potential. She said progress had been made over the last four years but there was a long way to go. “It takes more than four years to overturn decades of prejudice – this is the work of a generation.
“Mind and Rethink Mental Illness are grateful for this new funding which will make a difference to the lives of millions of people – those with mental health problems and those around them.”

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