AIM/Launchpad Open Up Initiative

Time to Change: Let’s End Mental Health Discrimination

AIM, together with Launchpad, launched an Open Up project in 2009/2010.

Run by leading national mental health charity Mind, and part of the Time to Change programme, Open Up gave people who have experienced mental health issues the opportunity to tackle mental health discrimination within their communities. The project works to reduce prejudice by giving people with experience of mental distress the tools they need to speak out and take action.

Open Up ran the Open Up Initiatives Scheme, which asked people to come forward with their anti-discrimination ideas and supported them to get these projects up and running. It did this by providing advice, training and help with expenses to people from a range of different backgrounds, who used tools like drama, new media and research to get their message across.

Open Up worked with groups but also mentored people who were working on their own or just starting out. The project linked people in to others working towards the same cause and it set up networking events where people could share and develop their ideas. Support was delivered regionally by people who have experienced mental health problems themselves, who used their knowledge and understanding to reach out to people in similar situations in their local areas.

Open Up was funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The local project, ‘Let’s End Mental Health Discrimination’ was organised by AIM and Launchpad, an organisation led by service users who strive to improve mental health services for all, and to promote the views and opinions of service users. The project covered Newcastle and North Tyneside and was supported by local NHS organisations: NHS Newcastle and North Tyneside Community Health and NHS North of Tyne.

The project aimed, through a partnership with local and regional media, to tell the stories of mental health service users in a positive way that contributes to more positive attitudes of the general public towards people with mental health problems. The project was also geared up to support mental health service users with a view to reducing the discrimination experienced by them.

The project aimed to:

raise awareness that mental illness is common; people recover from mental illness and mental illness is just like any other type of illness.
raise awareness with the general public and mental health service users of the stigma felt by people with mental health problems and of the discrimination experienced by many of them, by using local media and a DVD.

Four volunteer service users from Launchpad unselfishly came forward to tell their stories about how they had been discriminated against and how they are now making a worthwhile contribution to their communities and society at large. Three volunteers had their stories told in the Monday health supplement of the Chronicle and all of the volunteers were involved in the making of the DVD ‘Challenging Mental Health Discrimination’. It is hoped to distribute the DVD widely to groups of employers and education and training establishments to spread the anti-discrimination message. Philip Clark, Open Up Co-ordinator (North East), kindly edited the video to create a shortened version for YouTube. This video can be viewed on YouTube at We hope you like it and would welcome any feedback!

‘Let’s End Mental Health Discrimination’ will hopefully contribute to generating a mind shift in the local population that discrimination on mental health grounds is unacceptable.

Open Up Survey on Attitudes to Mental Health

At the end of the Open Up Initiative, on World Mental Health Day 2010, a survey was carried out, which was designed to provide AIM and Launchpad with a snapshot of the general public’s attitudes to the following:

fear and exclusion of people with mental health problems; integrating people with mental health problems
relationships with people with mental health problems – intended behaviour
talking to people (friends, family and work) about mental health
stigma and discrimination
awareness of the Time to Change campaign.

Click here to read the survey report.