‘Provocative’ films aim to undermine mental health stigma


A mental health anti-stigma campaign has released two “provocative” online films, as a new poll revealed that many members of the public still believe people with schizophrenia are likely to be violent.

The short films, launched by Time to Change, use horror movie imagery to undermine the idea that people with mental health problems are prone to violence.

Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, said: “Both films have been designed to attract members of the public who don’t realize they are causing stigma and discrimination.

“Evidence shows that provocative films make a big difference to attitudes and both films will go a long way to reducing the stigma associated with mental health problems.”

The two films were launched as a YouGov poll found that 34 per cent of adults believe people diagnosed with schizophrenia are likely to be violent.

And they followed the publication of the annual report by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness, which found an “unexplained” increase in the number of homicides committed by people with mental illness, from 54 in 1997 to more than 70 in both 2004 and 2005. 

The inquiry stressed that the increase only applied to those who were not receiving treatment for their condition.

Time to Change said a person was as likely to be struck by lightning as to be killed by someone with symptoms of psychosis.

The two films both star Stuart Baker-Brown, who has schizophrenia and has personal experience of stigma and discrimination.

He said: “I’m not a stereotype. I lead a fulfilling life and hope that this film and the example of my life can help others do so too.”

Time to Change, which is led by the mental health charities Rethink and Mind, is backed by £16 million from the Big Lottery Fund and £4 million from Comic Relief.    

To view the films, visit www.time-to-change.org.uk

10 August 2009

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