Time to Change, the campaign being run by a partnership of mental health charity, which is working towards challenging stigma which is faced by people with mental illnesses, is today launching a couple of films which are intended to work on some of the prejudices and preconceptions held.
The videos can be seen on the Time to Change website and are also going to be available on various other websites to be, according to the BBC, played in cinemas later in the year.
Challenging some of the preconceptions that surround mental illness is certainly a positive as the preconceptions are invariably negative. I doubt there will be much measured effect but if it makes it easier for people to speak about mental illness and for the distress to be recognised, that can only be a good thing.
The BBC quotes a Yougov survey that indicates a third of people questioned thought that people suffering from schizophrenia were violent. It’s unsurprising and in some ways, I’m surprised it isn’t a higher figure.
The films will help I imagine, but the real stigma needs to be fought in some of the media reporting which tends to define people by their mental illnesses because it is an ‘easier’ explanation rather than display any kind of sensitivities or understanding of other factors that might come into play.
The actor in the films, Stuart Baker-Brow, has himself been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is quoted as saying he wanted to be involved in the filming in order to allay some of the assumptions and stigma that he faces, as he says to the BBC
“Helping to make the film has been part of a journey to take control of my life,” he said.
“Rather than giving up I made a decision to change my life, which was borne out of a necessity to prove not only to myself and to all those around me, that a good level of both physical and mental recovery from schizophrenia is possible.”
I don’t doubt that having these films is better than not having them. I hope they will make some difference, but there is probably a deeper level of understanding that needs to be reached for a difference truly to be made.