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Mental Health stigma condemned

3rd April 2006

At an international conference organised by Shift, a five-year Government programme aimed at tackling mental health, the national director for mental health, Professor Louis Appleby, said that the stigma of mental illness needs to be wiped out.

He said that mental health prejudice 'has no place in civilised society'.  He went on to say that "It's long been recognised that racism is unacceptable, but unthinking discrimination against people with mental health problems still seems to be socially acceptable"

Black people who have experienced mental illness could suffer a "double whammy" of racism and mental health stigma, he added. He said that this is wrong, and that it was time that 'society caught up and realised that it is not OK to be prejudiced against people with mental health problems.'

In the UK is estimated that at any one time, one in six people suffer from a mental health problem. In 2005, 630,000 people in England were recorded as being in contact with mental health services.

Suicide is the most common cause of death in men under 35; more than 1,300 young men in England take their own life each year, with only one in four seeking help from mental health services.

The event was organised by Shift, which is a five year initiative (2004-2009) in England to tackle stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues. Shift is part of the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE), a Government organisation that is responsible for supporting positive change in mental health and mental health services.


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