Mental health stigma hits the top trending list on Twitter
Posted Wednesday 2 February 2011
A new top trend has hit social networking site Twitter today, on the day the government launched its new mental health strategy No Health Without Mental Health.
Actress Rebecca Front, known for her roles in ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ and ‘The Thick of it’, admitted she has experienced panic attacks earlier today in a bid to destigmatise mental illness using the hashtag #whatstigma.
This has unleashed responses from thousands of people openly disclosing their own experiences of mental illness, a subject that has is for far too long been a taboo. Well known names have also joined this top trending movement including Alastair Campbell, Caitlin Moran, Sue Perkins and Stephanie Merritt.
Celebrity tweets include:
Hey well known Twitterers. Fancy taking the stigma out of mental illness? I'll start: I'm Rebecca Front & I've had panic attacks.#whatstigma
And no, we don't only want famous people. But it helps to raise awareness if there are some. #whatstigma
I'm liking @RebeccaFront's #whatstigma? campaign about mental illness. I'll confess: I've had panic attacks so bad, I fell off a bus.
campbellclaret (Alastair Campbell)
#whatstigma great hashtag, cos points out that some people don't see the stigma, but is also encouraging openness among so many people
Meanwhile thousands of individuals have been using Twitter to give honest accounts of their own experiences, showing just how common mental problems are:
See that 1 person on your timeline who tweeted #whatstigma? There's at least another 5 ppl on there who secretly feel the same. #whatstigma
I love twitter, I love #whatstigma, I love everyone using it to show people with #mentalhealth difficulties are just that - people.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't suffer from it, I have it. #whatstigma
I have always had pretty severe depression, and am starting therapy. I'm still terrified to write this. #whatstigma
Easy to forget how common mental illness is until you search for #whatstigma and see "300 tweets since you started searching" after 20 secs.
Sue Baker, Director of anti-stigma campaign Time to Change, comments:
"This just shows how many people are affected by a mental health problem. It is fantastic that Rebecca Front’s leadership and the viral power of Twitter has helped encourage thousands more people to talk openly about this issue.
Time to Change has already started to see a big movement of people with mental health problems who are actively involved in addressing stigma and discrimination and that movement has been given a further boost today."
The government earlier today committed to addressing stigma and discrimination and recognises the role of a major and sustained social movement in order to tackle the stigma and discrimination of mental health.
- 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 £4.5m from Comic Relief, and evaluated by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London. For further information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk
- 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
- 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 £4.5 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