Mental health institute in anti-stigma campaign

The National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) has launched a long-term campaign to tackle the stigma and discrimination around mental illness.

The five-year initiative aims to communicate with those most at risk, especially men aged under 35.

‘Shift’ will work in partnership with football agencies to destigmatise mental health issues – a move that is backed by the Professional Footballers’ Association and Football in the Community. More than 4,000 people commit suicide each year, of which 1,300 are under-35-year-old men.

It will distribute a series of postcards and posters targeting young people, public service providers, private and voluntary organisations, and the media. They aim to communicate that people’s experiences of discrimination can be more damaging than symptoms of a mental health problem.

NIMHE has produced a media guide, ‘The real story on mental health’, designed to encourage understanding around mental health issues.

The institute also intends to use people with mental health problems as spokespeople, analyse media coverage of mental health issues and develop a survey to track people’s experiences of stigma and discrimination.

Before launching Shift, NIMHE – whose director is Ingrid Steele – created focus groups with people affected by mental health problems.

The push coincides with a PR campaign by charity Mind for mental health legislation to focus on healthcare rather than crime prevention.

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