Changing Minds Campaign 1997 - 2003
The roots of stigmatisation against people with mental illness go
back a long way. It has always been dangerous to be different. But
times are changing; discriminating against people on the grounds of
race, gender or beliefs is now unacceptable to society, and often
against the law.
Following its highly successful "Defeat Depression" Campaign
(1992 - 1996), the College felt that its next campaign should be to
tackle the problem of stigmatisation of people with mental health
In 1997 a working party was convened and a Strategy Document
produced. It proposed goals, content and structure for a five-year
long Campaign. The working party recommended that the Campaign
should focus on six of the most common mental health
- Anxiety - affects more than 1 person in 10
- Depression - affects 1 person in 4
- Schizophrenia - affects 1 person in 100
- Dementia - affects 1 person in 5 over 80
- Alcohol and drug addiction - affects about 1 person in 3
- Eating disorders - affects 1 person in 50
Target populations included doctors, children and young
people, employers, the media and the general public. The aims of
the Campaign were to increase public and professional understanding
of mental health problems and to reduce stigma and
"People suffering from mental disorders
often attract fear, hostility and disapproval, rather than
compassion, support and understanding," says Professor Arthur
Crisp, Chairman of the Changing Minds Campaign. "Such
stigmatisation not only causes people with mental health problems
to feel isolated and unhappy, but may also prevent them receiving
help and treatment."
Research carried out among the general public at the start of
the campaign in 1998 showed that stigmatising attitudes were
common. In particular:
- Many people believed that those suffering from depression
should "pull themselves together".
- People with schizophrenia and alcohol addiction were seen as
- Anyone with a mental health problem was considered "difficult
to talk to".
The results of this baseline survey were released at the
launch of the Changing Minds Campaign, on 7th October 1998.
The Changing Minds Campaign closed on 7th October
2003, we are aware however that tackling the stigma of mental
illness is an enduring task.
Resources, Surveys, Leaflets & Books:
The article answers questions such as ‘Are
suicidal people mentally ill?’ and explores the suicidal state of
mind. In particular, it examines our attitudes towards people who
are suicidal, and challenges a number of negative thoughts about
suicide and its prevention.
It emphasises that people expressing suicidal
ideas should be listened to and taken seriously. Our reaction to
them may – literally – make all the difference between life and
1998 and 2003 Survey
A randomised sample of 1700 people was
interviewed in July 1998 - before the start of the campaign - by
the Office of National Statistics. They were asked a series of
eight questions about the six disorders which the campaign was
Second survey of public opinions concerning
people with mental illnesses.
In July 2003 the nation-wide survey of public
opinions concerning people with mental illnesses was repeated,
again conducted by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of
the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ anti-stigma campaign.
Analysis of the results of this new survey
show to what extent public attitudes towards mental illnesses have
changed during the five years of the Campaign. Also, data from the
two surveys has been combined to allow a more detailed analysis of
the characteristics of people with negative attitudes towards those
with mental illness.
Psychiatrist Dr John Morgan considers the link between
creativity and mental illness in this 37-page article written for
the Campaign website. Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery
form the basis for discussion about the work of individuals and the
link between their creativity and their mental health.
“1 in 4” (2 minutes)
This arresting film (Certificate 15) was developed to be shown
in the cinema to coincide with World Mental Health Day 2000. Aimed
mainly at young adults aged 15 to 25, it uses some disturbing
images to challenge our preconceptions about mental health.
1 in 4" reinforces the message that anyone can suffer from
mental illness - "1 in 4 could be your brother, your sister. Could
be your wife, your girlfriend... 1 in 4 could be your daughter... 1
in 4 could me... it could be YOU."
The film also features cocaine addiction,
anorexia and depression.
Leaflets on the stigmatisation of the following mental
Information for children: "Reading Lights"
A series of colourful books which address what it is like
to be different, and provide a frameork for parents, social workers
& teachers to support children.
“Reading Lights” Comic books for 4-7 year
olds and their teachers and parents
||Caring around the clock Booklet with information and
support for young people
This publication is a colourful, illustrated 16-page booklet
designed to help young carers cope with the pressures they
'You are not on your own', it says and encourages them to seek
help from people close to them as well as their key worker and
doctor; to make time for themselves; to go to school regularly; and
to let other people know when things are getting on top of
'Don't blame yourself', it advises, and alerts them to the
possibility that the person they care for could be suffering from
depression. 'Your parent is ill and needs the help of a doctor,
just as they would if they had a bad heart or diabetes'. A case
history of postnatal depression illustrates the problem from the
perspective of a mother and her young son.
This booklet was sponsored by Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust in
support of the Changing Minds campaign.