The mental health anti-stigma campaign Time to Change has secured £20 million in funding over the next four years.
The campaign, run by the charities Mind and Rethink, has been awarded £16 million by the government, in addition to £4 million from Comic Relief, which has been funding Time to Change since 2007.
Among its new projects is a £2.7 million fund that will provide grants to 75 local grassroots organisations to tackle stigma in their own communities.
Some of the new funding will be used to support user-led groups to run community events and activities, with training in event organisation provided to people with mental health conditions with “unfulfilled leadership potential”.
Time to Change will also continue to train and support people to disclose their impairment “safely”, and to challenge stigma at a local level, for instance by setting up new user-led groups.
The campaign believes the funding will allow it to reach 29 million members of the public and increase the confidence of 100,000 people with mental health conditions to challenge stigma and discrimination.
There will be a particular focus on the stigma faced by children and young people, and those from black and minority ethnic communities, which will start by targeting the African Caribbean community.
A survey carried out last month found that more than 40 per cent of people with mental health conditions who were in touch with the campaign were experiencing stigma and discrimination on at least a monthly basis.
But the Institute of Psychiatry has measured a four per cent reduction in the discrimination reported by people with mental health conditions as a result of Time to Change.
Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street communications director, who has spoken publicly about his own mental health condition, helped the campaign with its appeal to Comic Relief for funding.
He wrote on his blog that he and Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, had argued that mental health was “an area where the stigma and discrimination were often worse than the symptoms, and that the campaign was focused on one of the hardest things of all – changing attitudes”.
He added: “Mental illness is perhaps the last great taboo, and we need to break it down.”
Baker said: “We have worked hard over the last four years to secure the beginnings of change in society, and have seen robust evidence of a reduction in discrimination.
“But it takes more than four years to overturn decades of prejudice – this is the work of a generation.”
Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat care services minister, said: “Coping with a mental health condition is difficult enough without the added burden of overcoming discrimination too.
“That’s why I am committing up to £16 million over the next three and a half years to Time to Change to help fight the negative attitudes people have towards mental health conditions.”