Page last updated at 23:26 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 00:26 UK

Films attack mental health stigma

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'Schizo' - a mental health anti-stigma trailer

Two films are being launched in cinemas in England and online to challenge the misconception that all sufferers of schizophrenia are violent.

The move comes as a YouGov poll of 2,010 people found that more than a third held this belief.

Campaigners Time to Change said someone was as likely to be hit by lightning as be killed by a mentally ill person.

Figures released last week showed an increase in the number of murders committed by mentally ill people.

The National Confidential Inquiry reported 54 people were killed in England and Wales in 1997 and this had risen to more than 70 in both 2004 and 2005.

But it was murders by people who were not receiving treatment for their condition which accounted for the increase.

'Lunatic'

Time to Change, which is backed by the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief, is launching the films in a bid to combat mental health prejudice.

The first, called Schizo, begins in the style of a horror movie trailer with comments like "terrifying" and "chilling" from supposed film critics.

However, it ends with an ordinary-looking man named Stuart, making a cup of tea and talking about his illness.

Stigma and discrimination wrecks lives
Sue Baker, Time to Change

"Hi there, I'm sorry to disappoint you if you were expecting a lunatic with a knife or on some sort of rampage," he says.

"People like me with a diagnosis of mental illness face discrimination every day. Luckily for me, I have the support of friends and family to help me lead a full life."

The second film, Kids' Party, is subtitled "Schizophrenic man terrifies kids at party," but viewers go on to see a normal, happy occasion in which Stuart entertains the children with a giant spider made out of balloons.

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

"One in four of us will have a mental health problem at some stage of our lives. It can happen to anyone.

"Stigma and discrimination wrecks lives. Yet everyone can make a change in their attitudes now."

'Prove myself'

Stuart Baker-Brown, who features in both films, said he wanted to show that people like him with schizophrenia did not conform to a stereotype.

"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."

The YouGov poll was commissioned by Time to Change to coincide with the launch of the films.



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SEE ALSO
Schizophrenia: the horror movie
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Mental health killings increase
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Firms 'must tackle mental health'
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Mental health killings 'falling'
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'No tabloid laws' on mental care
28 Nov 06 |  UK Politics
Bid to end mental health stigma
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