Brits abroad leave depressed friends at home
Posted Thursday 23 July 2009
The British would prefer to go on their summer holiday with a friend who has a criminal record than go with a friend who has a mental health problem, a new survey as part of the Time to Change campaign  has found. The results confirm that the taboo of mental health has the power to destroy existing friendships, when the support of friends is vital for people dealing with mental health problems.
The survey found that almost 40 per cent  of British people said they'd rearrange a planned holiday with a friend if they found out they had a mental health problem. This compares with just nine per cent if they found out their holiday partner had a criminal record.
The findings back up research  that shows that discrimination and stigma prevents people with mental illness from living a full life and reduces their opportunity to undertake activities that would help them get better. This is despite mental health problems being common, affecting 1 in 4 of us at some stage . Stigma and discrimination prevents nine out of ten people with a mental illness doing everyday things like having relationships with friends and family . Yet the same research shows that support from friends can be crucial in helping people with mental illness get better . Small actions like calling on the phone, going on holiday, or just staying in touch can make a world of difference.
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said:
Summer holidays are a time to catch up with friends, but the stigma of mental health means that the very people who most need the support of their friends are being left at home. At one of the most sociable and happy times of the year, we call on friends and family to make the change and support their loved ones with a mental health problem not turn away when they need you the most.
Jenny Lewis, who has had schizophrenia says:
Me and a friend had planned to go on a city break in Europe, when some people told her that it would be risky sharing a room with me because I'm dangerous. They knew nothing about me and were basing their ideas on discriminating stereotypes. I was lucky, however. My friend was very supportive. We went on holiday and had a great time. Yet not everyone is as lucky as me. It was good that my friend saw me rather than the label. It would have hurt me if she had listened to this other person. Thank goodness she didn't!
The Time to Change campaign is England's biggest and most ambitious programme to end mental health discrimination. The campaign is run by leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink, and backed by £16 million from the Big Lottery Fund  and £4 million from Comic Relief .
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Notes to editors:
1. Time to Change is England's most ambitious programme to end the discrimination faced by people with mental health problems, and improve the nation's wellbeing. Mind and Rethink are leading the programme, funded with £16m from the Big Lottery Fund and £4m from Comic Relief, and evaluated by the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London. For further information go to
2. 39 per cent. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1954 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 9th July 2009. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
3. Stigma Shout - service user and carer experiences of stigma and discrimination
4. Office for National Statistics
5. Stigma Shout - service user and carer experiences of stigma and discrimination
6. Stigma Shout - service user and carer experiences of stigma and discrimination
7. Royal College of Psychiatrists: Mental Health and Work, www.workingforhealth.gov.uk
8. The Big Lottery Fund's support for Time to Change comes from its £165m Well-being programme. The Big Lottery Fund has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by Parliament on 1 December 2006. Full details of the work of the Big Lottery Fund, its programmes and awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888 / Out of hours: 07867 500 572 Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030 / Textphone: 08456 021 659
9. Comic Relief is committed to supporting people living with mental health problems. The projects Comic Relief funds ensure people with mental health problems get their voices heard in the decisions that affect their lives and to get the help they need to recover. Comic Relief also helps people to promote their rights and reduce the stigma and discrimination they face so that they feel more included in society. The £4 million grant to Time to Change is part of Comic Relief's long standing commitment to this issue. For more information go to www.comicrelief.com